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Monday, October 31, 2005

Statistics for the Month of October

Well, following two slow months, let's hope that things can get back on track again. With only three entries in September and six in October (five of which have come in the past seven days), let's hope this recent flurry is a sig of things to come.

The counter on the left hand side is up to 2545. My statistics counter tells me that there were 217 unique visitors to this blog, including 182 first timers and 35 repeat offenders. That's an average of seven per day.

This month they all came from the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. It appears that most found me through various search engines.

They came to read:
That's about all for this month, stay tuned...

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Notes from Mark Milliron's Keynote

The title of the session that was given by Mark Milliron was "Education in a Connected World: Key Issues in the Balance." Many of these notes may seem random, and in many instances they are just random things that he said that I found interesting and/or provocative, or thought it may be useful at some point in the future.

  • e-mail is doubling
    • 31 to 60 billion by 2006
    • most will be customized by Internet habits
  • mass use
    • Internet in 4 years -> fastest adoption of a disruptive technology
    • cell phones in 12 years
  • studies show -> workplace habits
    • sound goes off, people stop and check e-mail
    • we don't know how to use e-mail
    • many report that they go to work to answer e-mail all day (as opposed to actually going to do work all day)
  • customer response management -> today we expect web, telephone and in person
    • $10 billion -> online learning
    • loyality index has gone up with the Internet
    • pre-Internet is costs seven times more to get a new customer compared to keeping an existing one
    • with the Internet, that has gone up to ten times
    • loyality = trust
  • "web learning has the potential to make inadequate classroom instruction available to a greater audience"
  • learning how to learning online is a new skill
  • students will continue to learning online in post-secondary and/or in the work place
  • increase productivity -> give employees laptops or let them work at home
    • increases the number of hours people are working compared to the hours actually spent at the office
  • "persistent partial attention" -> blend of multi-tasking with mindfulness
  • we can be talking to a spouse on the telephone which checking our e-mail and looking at our daytimer (we never focus upon one thing than another, but on many things at the same time)
  • studies
    • counsellors in Florida found that when they would turn off their computer monitor or close their laptops when students came into the office it increased visits to the counsellors by three times
    • a telephone call in the first week from the instructor to the student in an online learning situation increased retention by 35%
    • personal touch in a digital world
  • students, even those who have grow up with technology are "users of toaster, not fixers of toasters"
  • means that students know how to use technology, but not necessarily use it well
  • technocromagnum theory
    • basically goes "technology good..." -> used to justify much of the spending on technology in K-12 classroom
    • Greenspan -> age of irrational exhurberance
  • University of Illinois faculty sued a site which was a pre-cursor to a ratemyprofessor.com
  • site was actually up for two years before the faculty even discovered
  • most money spent on the Internet
    • gambling #1
    • porn #2
    • those two individually are more than the next seven on the list combined
  • rays of hope / seeds of darkness
  • experience of online learning and how to do it
  • savy of gaining digital literacy
"If a nation wants to live ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

  • a number of books he recommended
    • "Connect" and "Human Moments" by Ed Hallowell
    • "Got Game" by John Beck and Michael (something beginning with W)
    • "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman
    • "The Cluetrain Manifesto" by Richard Florida
      • natives vs. immigrants
    • "The Middle of Everywhere" by Mary Pipher
    • "Growing Up Digital" by Don Tapscott
    • "Millennials Rising" (didn't catch author)
      • experience of the majority
    • "Good to Great" by Jim Collins

To see more of a relfection on part of this, see the entry titled Start of the Second Day of VSS.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Assessment of the Virtual School Symposium

Well, its two days since I left Denver and the Virtual School Symposium (and in fact I'm sitting in a lodge room in Amicalola Falls (see Rock Ruminations for more details). Thinking about the conference as a whole, I was somewhat please and somewhat disappointed. I was please and thought that the program was better than last year in Atlanta, and much of the kudos for that fact go to Matt Wicks of the IVHS. There were a lot of big names in the field, all of the big names that I can think of with virtual schooling were there in fact. Having said that, many of these big names - I can think of many of the presentations that I attended given by people from the Virtual High School in Concord, MA - were sessions or information that I have heard or read before, in many instances from the same people. With the exceptions of some of the research sessions, and those sessions provided to present the two Learning Point Associates reports released in the past month or so. I was speaking to another participants and we were saying that more sessions where we had people involved in the trenches speaking (like the student panel that was held), it would have been more beneficial to see what others are doing and be able to get tips and avoid pitfalls of others. Sessions that featured current teachers and letting them discuss what was working and things they were still struggling with. Sessions that featured administrators and how they were running their virtual schools and the challenges that they were facing. Sessions featuring school-based personel and how they were integrating virtual schooling ino their birck and mortar schools.

The keynotes were by far the best portion of the conference... One entry in this blog has already focused upon one of the keynotes and I plan to add more entries about that particular keynote in the next few weeks, as he did have some interesting points to ponder.

Anyway, one of the features that I spoke to NACOL about, that I really feel needs to be addressed. One of the common themes expressed by many of the conference participants and presenters was that more research is needed. Now, the vast majority of unfunded, long-term research is completed by graduate students as they complete their thesis and dissertations. In fact, if you do a comprehensive literature review of virtual schooling or even web-based K-12 online learning, you'll find a lot of articles that just report on what someone did. With the exception of the past two years, and the writings of Dr. Roblyer, the vast, vast majority of RESEARCH conducted into virtual schooling has been done by graduate students. Yet, I will typically pay a $50 registration fee to just about every conference that I attend with organizations that are graduate student friendly. The student registration at the Virtual School Symposium was $250. Most conferences have a system where graduate students can volunteer for a reduced or waiver of the registration fee... Not NACOL's Virtual School Symposium. If research is what they want, and fundin for that research continues to be tight, NACOL is going to have to become a more graduate student friendly organization.

More about the VSS in future entries...

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Start of the Second Day of VSS

Just finished listening to the keynote speaker this morning, a guy by the name of Mark Milliron with SAS Education. One of the things that he brought up, and I hope to blog about a number of issues that he raised in his presentation in the next week or two, but in response to a question from the audience he indicated the possibility of learning customized to a level of artificial intelligence.

This was an interesting possibility for me. Think of what it could mean. For example, one of the most common experiences that people have with AI is online shopping. You buy a book from Amazon and the first thing it tells you after your purchase is other people who bought this book also purchased these items.

Now, translate that to education... Students who completed this activity found these learning objects useful. Students who viewed this lecture participated in these discussions.

Imagine the possibilities of a course system that could provide that kind of just in time feedback and guidance for our students. The fact that it is available to the commercial world means that the technology is there, so how long before this begins to filter into education, particularly given the business model of education that seems to have developed in the Western world.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

First Day of the Virtual School Symposium

Well, I'm in Denver at the Virtual School Symposium - sponsored by North American Council for Online Learning this year. This afternoon I did my session on the Evaluation of the Illinois Virtual High School Course Development Process. As a summary of my own session, some of the major themes that came out of the evaluation included:
  • Overall, course developers are pleased with their experience in developing courses for the Illinois Virtual High School.
  • The Illinois Virtual High School course development process is fairly open-ended with a lot of room for developers to create the kind of course that they want to create, which was both a good and a bad thing.
  • Approximately half of the Illinois Virtual High School courses were developed by a team of two or more developers and this has worked well in some instances and not so well in others.
  • The course developers for the Illinois Virtual High School were trained as teachers and unable to utilize the technology of the web to its fullest capacity.
  • As the Illinois Virtual High School begins to use the Syllabuild Tool to standardize their course development process, the freedom to design the look and feel of their courses was one of the things that the course developers enjoyed.

The issues raised from these themes and the evidence that supported them, lead to five recommendations:

  1. Create a structure for the course development process so that the IVHS, eCollege, and the developer are under the same impressions when it comes to the nature of the assistance that can be provided and the expectations of all parties within the specific deadlines of the course development process.
  2. Divide the course development process into timed segments that describe the nature of the deliverable due at the end of each period, with partial payment for the successful delivery of each of the segments.
  3. If the IVHS continues to use a team of developers for a single course, determine a method of select team members that will work well together.
  4. Provide training in multimedia software for course developers or split the course development process so that technical developers can add multimedia components to courses after the content has been developed.
  5. Any tool used to guide the development of course developers needs to be open enough to allow for the creativity of the developer.

I also attended two sessions from presenters from the Virtual High School in Concord, MA. I'll have more to say about them tomorrow or Wednesday, along with the 2005 version of Keeping pace with K-12 online learning: A review of state-level policy and practice. Until then...

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

It Has Been A While....

Well, I know that I haven't posted much here this month (anything in fact), but I'll start on Monday... I promise...

Actually, I'm heading to the Virtual School Symposium in Denver on Monday morning, so I should have a few things to post from there. Plus, I've come up with some regular features that will result in at least weekly posts (but hopefully I'll find the time to do more on top of that).

In the meantime, I figure that the net value has dropped due to the long periods of inactivity for the past two months, but here is the net value of this blog.

My blog is worth $4,516.32.
How much is your blog worth?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Statistics for September

First of all, I want to thank my readership... September has been a busy month for me and I was only able to get three entries in, yet I think that this is one of the best months in terms of visitors. Let's take a look...

  • 284 unique visitors - 221 first timers and 63 returning visitors
  • average of 9 visitors per day - 7 first timers and 2 return visitors
  • popular entries include Virtual School Students, Virtual School Students, Supporting Different Learning Styles
  • Yahoo seems to be winning the search engine wars, with fives time that of MSN and 15 times more than Google, Sympatico and Technorati
  • the United States continues to be the nation of most of my readers - adding Canada, Thailand and Ghana to the list of countries from the last 100 visitors

So, hopefully October will be a busier month around here. As I continue to work on my prospectus, I'll try and use this forum as a place to bounce ideas around.

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