Welcome to our periodic Worthy of Note!
SREB Educational Technology Cooperative
Worthy of Note: April 16, 2014

Prepared by June Weis
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Common Core Implementation Well Underway in 15 States in SREB Study
SREB’s State Implementation of Common Core State Standards reports identify exemplary practices as schools work to bring the standards into classrooms. The in-depth review documents strides in 12 SREB member states and three states outside the SREB region. “The focus of the study is to bring states together around this review to see what they can learn from one another as they continue implementation,” said SREB’s Kim Anderson, the project’s director. (Link to the reports and study and press release.)
(Comment: The Educational Technology Cooperative held its Annual Meeting on April 1-2. Presenters featured SREB representatives who offered information about SREB Structure and Function. Following is some of that information.)
SREB Readiness courses: Transitioning to college and careers
Math Ready: Ready for college-level math
Literacy Ready: Ready for reading in all disciplines
Powerful courses to teach students the skills they need to learn and think independently after high school
The problem: Too many students graduate from high school underprepared for college or career training, and far too many need developmental education when they get to college. This readiness gap will look even larger as new assessments begin testing students on more rigorous college- and career-readiness expectations such as the Common Core State Standards.
One solution: SREB’s two Readiness Courses were developed specifically to help close the readiness gap. They teach young adults the reading, writing and math skills they must have to succeed in the workplace or college. The classes are taught in an engaging way that leads students to learn and think independently, read for information and solve problems.
Who developed them? SREB partnered with states around the nation, working with teams of teachers, faculty, agency staff and experts, to write and test the courses and offer them, at no cost, to all states. SREB plans to update future versions of the courses based on feedback from classroom teachers.
Literacy Ready
This course teaches students strategies for reading and truly understanding specific kinds of complex texts in all subjects — reading a biology textbook, for example, is different than reading short stories or history research articles. Students learn to develop and defend ideas from the text and write about them in different college-level formats.
Literacy Ready prepares high school students to read and write about college-level texts in core subjects.
Math Ready
This course emphasizes understanding of math concepts rather than just memorizing procedures. Math Ready students learn the context behind the procedure: why to use a certain formula or method to solve a problem, for example. This equips them with higher-order thinking to apply math skills, functions and concepts in different situations.
Prepares students for college-level math assignments based on the content. (Not designed to prepare students for college-level math in STEM majors)
Benchmarking Common Core Implementation
How and to what extent are states implementing the Common Core State Standards?
The Southern Regional Education Board is conducting a multi-year study of how 15 states are implementing the Common Core State Standards. The “Benchmarking State Implementation of Common Core Standards” project builds on SREB’s decades of experience tracking and reporting state progress in education.

More on Literacy

Literacy Design Collaborative
The Literacy Design Collaborative seeks to ensure that every student in America graduates from high school with the Common Core literacy skills necessary for success in college and career. LDC supports educators in providing rigorous Common Core instruction; continuous, reflective professional improvement; and the integration of literacy and content in instruction from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Competency-Based Education

Sally Johnstone, Vice President, Academic Advancement, Western Governors University, offered the keynote address at the recent ETC Annual Meeting. This is a link to a presentation she made on the topic, A Natural Fit? Overview of Competency-Based Education and was published on YouTube November 18, 2013. All of the links below were referenced in her presentation.
Why WGU — Competency-Based Learning
Western Governors University
Note these iNACOL publications on CBE, Sally Johnstone referenced this particular one: Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education, (Liz Glowa with an introduction by Susan Patrick, 2013).
Competency Based Education in Higher Education
College & Career Readiness & Success Center, October 9, 2013
The mission of the College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center is to serve the federally funded regional centers in building the capacity of states across the nation to effectively implement initiatives for college and career readiness and success.


State Authorization

Fight on State Authorization
Michael Stratford, Inside Higher Ed, March 26, 2014
WASHINGTON -- The Education Department’s first draft of new regulations for online programs operating across state lines is concerning some state regulators, who said the proposal would impose substantial burdens on their offices.
The department is looking to reinstate a requirement — which a federal judge struck down in 2012 for procedural reasons — that providers of online education obtain approval from state regulators in each and every state in which they enroll students.  Read more…


Online Learning

Michigan study looks at effectiveness of online learning
Amy Murin, Keeping Pace, April 10, 2014
The Virtual Learning Research Institute, a division of the Michigan Virtual University, has released Michigan’s K-12 virtual learning effectiveness report. With this report Michigan joins the ranks of the few states (others include California and Colorado) that have released comprehensive reports about online and/or blended learning activity.
The key findings “include an apparent growth in the number of students and schools participating in virtual courses, with the majority of virtual enrollments coming in the core subject areas. Students taking virtual courses in a supplemental capacity appear to be more successful when they take only a few virtual enrollments a year. Developing practices to better support students who take higher amounts of virtual enrollments should be a priority.”
6 Ways to Be a Better Online Teacher
Paul Beaudoin, Campus Technology, March 26, 2014
It doesn’t take long to discover that teaching in the blended or online learning environment is not a direct transfer of the traditional face-to-face class. The challenges of online learning often require a different set of skills that may not come easily to brick-and-mortar instructors. Here are six tried-and-tested strategies for becoming a better online teacher. Source: Campus Technology
ITC 2013 Distance Education Survey Results
Trends in eLearning: Tracking the Impact of eLearning at Community Colleges
April 2014, Instructional Technology Council
Online enrollment continued to grow at community colleges in 2013, even as many two-year institutions saw overall enrollment stagnate or drop.


A New Way of Thinking

The Kind of Innovation That Can Move a Community Forward
Rich Harwood, Governing, April 10, 2014
It’s not about new technology, policy or specific reforms. It’s about how all of the players take ownership of a common concern.


Big Data (or Just Data)

Eight (No, Nine!) Problems With Big Data 
Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis, New York Times, April 6, 2014
(Comment: Maybe these thoughts are applicable to education, too.)
Is big data really all it’s cracked up to be? There is no doubt that big data is a valuable tool that has already had a critical impact in certain areas. For instance, almost every successful artificial intelligence computer program in the last 20 years, from Google’s search engine to the I.B.M. “Jeopardy!” champion Watson, has involved the substantial crunching of large bodies of data. But precisely because of its newfound popularity and growing use, we need to be levelheaded about what big data can — and can’t — do.
Ed-Fi Alliance
As the leading data standard in the US, Ed-Fi technology is built to meet the unique needs of each state and district. Ed-Fi technology has been licensed by 19 states with more than 7,000 school districts poised to benefit from this market-leading solution. Check out How Ed-Fi Technology Works.
Arkansas student GPS Dashboards
The dashboards were designed with the help of teachers, campus, district, and regional leaders, and educational cooperatives across Arkansas. The dashboards will allow educators to utilize education data in practical and powerful ways and promote data-driven decision making in the classroom. The dashboards provide educators a web-based solution to view all of the information they need in one central location.
Predicting Success
Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, March 27, 2014
Many colleges are flirting with how to use predictive analytics to boost their graduation rates. But big data is often just a flashy way to spend money on reports aimed at administrators, argue the leaders of Civitas Learning.
They say data science works best when converted to practical tools that faculty members, advisers and students themselves can use. And the company, which is a relatively new player in education technology, so far has signed up more than 25 institutions — including statewide systems and national chains of campuses — to give its products a whirl.
Why Data Is the Key to Successful Course Redesign
LindsayH, Edudemic, April 12, 2014
What data should be considered to ensure your course redesign efforts are successful? Course redesign can be a major undertaking, but utilizing the data derived from your existing course can inform your decisions on what areas need to be targeted.
What Will Happen to ‘Big Data’ In Education?
Mind/Shift, April 3, 2014
Yesterday, a $100 million startup lost its last customer. According to a Politico article, the state of New York, inBloom’s last remaining client, will delete all student data on the repository due to privacy concerns.
InBloom’s company spokesperson told Politico the nonprofit was “pushing forward with our mission,” though at the moment there are no known state partners.
InBloom’s trajectory has shined a spotlight on the public’s sensitivity around what happens to student data. When it first began as a mammoth ed-tech project in 2011 by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation called the Shared Learning Infrastructure, the purpose was to provide open-source software to safely organize, pool, and store student data from multiple states and multiple sources in the cloud. That included everything from demographics to attendance to discipline to grades to the detailed, moment-by-moment, data produced by learning analytics programs like Dreambox and Khan Academy. An API — application programming interface — would allow software developers to connect to that data, creating applications that could, at least in theory, be used by any school in the infrastructure.
Big Data, Big Decisions: Planning for Student Success
Center for Digital Education
(Comment: This webinar was aired on March 25, but you can access the full event and listen to the discussion.)
The tremendous growth of digital tools being used by students and schools has created large amounts of data across multiple systems. Some of these systems include Student Information, Performance, Assessment, Learning Management, Accountability and State Reporting.
Please join the Center for Digital Education and the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement as we discuss Georgia’s vision to provide seamless data access using their “Race to the Top” longitudinal data system. You’ll have the chance to hear how they are implementing this cross agency system and the lessons they have learned along the way.
Topics will include:
  • How to build strategic partnerships between agencies through governance
  • How to address data quality
  • How an enterprise data warehouse can provide insights to shape the future of education
  • How to make educational data available that supports cross agency analysis


Welcome to OER and Accessibility!
(Comment: Gerry Hanley, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Technology Services, California State University was a presenter at the ETC Annual Meeting. He represented MERLOT and California State University. Below are some links to his presentation.)
Our mission is to enable the community of accessible technology experts, advocates, and users to build an online community and collection of open education resources that can improve universal learning by facilitating the contribution and sharing of accessible technology information, expertise, and accessible online teaching and learning materials.
Our Goals are:
  1. Enable educational institutions to find the expertise and the professional development resources that will improve their capacity to deliver a quality education reliably and in a timely manner to all students, including those with disabilities.
  2. Build a collection of quality and accessible OER that can be reliably used by all students and faculty.
  3. Build a community of organizations and individuals whose accessibility expertise and exemplary practices can be more easily and effectively be institutionalized by education.
Below are selected links of interest that were cited in the presentation.


Is your school’s Internet access fast enough for digital learning?
Join thousands of colleagues across the nation to find out by taking the school speed test. In less than a minute you’ll know the speed of your school’s Internet access and the types of digital learning it can support. SchoolSpeedTest also checks to see if schools block Khan Academy, Wikipedia, Edmodo, and many other resources.



Public schools lack of bandwidth needs attention
Carolyn Fox,, March 5, 2014
Join thousands of colleagues across the nation to find out by taking the school speed test. In less than a minute you’ll know the speed of your school’s Internet access and the types of digital learning it can support.
About 72% of public schools across the country (rural, suburb, and urban communities) lack high-speed Internet access.
Open tools like Nagios, Cacti, and Zabbix can help schools monitor networks, cut costs, and reduce the bandwidth bottleneck too.


West Virginia Higher Education

WVRocks helps adults complete four-year degrees
The State Journal, West Virginia, March 29, 3014
Through the WVROCKS initiative launched by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, adult students at Fairmont State University have found increased success in completing a four-year degree.


Proficiency-Based Learning

Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified
The Great Schools Partnership created Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified to help schools develop efficient standards-based systems that will prepare all students for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century. For this reason, our model is focused on prioritizing and assessing the most vitally important knowledge and skills, while also balancing these high academic expectations with the need for flexibility, responsiveness, and creativity in the classroom.

(Comment: The Great Schools Partnership is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit school-support organization working to redesign public education and improve learning for all students. We are a team of passionate, committed educators and school leaders who bring decades of collective service in public schools. There is additional information on topics of interest worthy of your attention.)

Personalized Learning

Georgia’s Path to Personalized Learning
Georgia Department of Education
Bob Swiggum, Chief Information Officer of the Georgia Department of Education, presented information on LEA Access to Integrated GaDOE Systems at our annual meeting. Follow Georgia’s Path to Personalized Learning here.


Foreign Language Skills

Why learning foreign languages is a ‘crucial’ skill
Staff, eSchool News, March 10, 2014
Most of today’s companies do business with customers all over the world, and several also have branches in multiple countries. Chances are good that when students enter the workforce, they’ll be working with — or at least doing business with — someone from another nation, with its own culture and its own unique perspective, at some point in their career.
Learning other languages is an important way to develop this cultural empathy. That’s why a growing number of K-12 leaders believe that exposure to world languages and cultures — even at a very early age — is critical for students’ success in the 21st century.


Impact of Libraries

Public Library and Technology Access Study 2011-12
American Library Association
(Comment: There was much information last week at our ETC annual meeting that libraries play a vital role in technology endeavors, whether they are public or academic. Therefore, this document is important. Check out information about your state.)



Heartbleed – What passwords to change
Ed Holden, IVPN, April 10, 2014
Graphic updated on 04/14 @ 12:30 CEST – (Netflix and Instagram changes)
The Heartbleed bug — a major security flaw in OpenSSL — has seriously disrupted the online community this week. OpenSSL is one of the most popular pieces of encryption software, and the bug has potentially exposed millions of user details to hackers. Some online service providers acted quickly, patching the flaw as soon as it was announced. However, many others have yet to act.
If a service provider is yet to apply the patch, you should not change your password. Instead, wait until you receive confirmation from an official channel that the servers have been patched. Only then should you log in and update your details. Conflicting reports have led to panic — nobody seems to know which sites have been affected, or whether their servers have been patched.
To dispel the confusion, we’ve created a simple password change checklist. It identifies the major sites that have been affected by Heartbleed – and whether they’ve patched their servers yet. Link to the full graphic



How Do You Print from an iPad? Let Me Count the Ways!
Jonathan Wylie, Hub Pages
He offers lots of options. Try some of them.

How Teachers Make Cell Phones Work in the Classroom
Tina Barseghian, Mind/Shift, May 10, 2012
(Comment: This is a little dated but applicable. 73% of teachers use cell phones for classroom activities. Here is a recent article, Cell Phones in Class; a Student Survey, March 22, 2013.)
At its core, the issues associated with mobile learning get to the very fundamentals of what happens in class everyday. At their best, cell phones and mobile devices seamlessly facilitate what students and teachers already do in thriving, inspiring classrooms. Students communicate and collaborate with each other and the teacher. They apply facts and information they’ve found to formulate or back up their ideas. They create projects to deepen their understanding, association with, and presentation of ideas.
In the most ideal class settings, mobile devices disappear into the background, like markers and whiteboards, pencil and paper — not because they’re not being used, but because they’re simply tools, a means to an end. The “end” can be any number of things: to gauge student understanding of a concept, to capture notes and ideas to be used and studied later, to calculate, to communicate, to express ideas.


Just Interesting

The Address (a film by Ken Burns)
(Comment: Tonight while I organized items for this WON, THE ADDRESS, a 90-minute feature length documentary by Ken Burns, played in the background on TV. I was distracted often because it was a moving story. It is worth seeing on PBS when it reappears.)
The film tells the story of a tiny school in Putney Vermont, the Greenwood School, where each year the students are encouraged to practice, memorize, and recite the Gettysburg Address. In its exploration of the Greenwood School, the film also unlocks the history, context and importance of President Lincoln’s most powerful address. The Greenwood School students, boys ages 11-17, all face a range of complex learning differences that make their personal, academic and social progress extremely challenging.
8 Ways Tech Has Completely Rewired Our Brains
Rebecca Hiscott, Mashable, March 14, 2014
Technology has altered human physiology. It makes us think differently, feel differently, even dream differently. It affects our memory, attention spans and sleep cycles. This is attributed to a scientific phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to alter its behavior based on new experiences. In this case, that’s the wealth of information offered by the Internet and interactive technologies.
Some cognition experts have praised the effects of tech on the brain, lauding its ability to organize our lives and free our minds for deeper thinking. Others fear tech has crippled our attention spans and made us uncreative and impatient when it comes to anything analog.
10 Trends Driving the Future of Education
Susan Patrick (blog), Education Domain: Online Learning, iNACOL, November 13, 2013
Susan’s list is too long to publish here but well-worth reading.
Catching a Cheater Online
Jessica Lahey, Atlantic, March 18, 2014
What happens after a group of teachers notice a student trying to cheat via Craigslist?
Universities are scrambling to keep up with the novel methods students have found to cheat on these courses. Given that online courses do not require face-to-face student-teacher interactions, colleges have had to resort to all sorts of other safeguards in order to prevent academic dishonesty.
Public high schools are prominent in Ivy League rosters
Center for Public Education, April 4, 2014
Public school grads make up 55% of incoming freshman at Dartmouth and Yale, 58.7% at Princeton and 66% at Cornell University. Brown doesn’t have figures for its undergrad program, but it does reveal that 67% of students accepted into its medical school in 2013 hailed from public high schools. Read about Kwasi Enin, the Long Island high school student who applied and gained admission to all eight Ivy League schools. Check out CPE’s report Is High School Tough Enough?
Khan Academy and Implications of Teacher Control
John Watson, Keeping Pace, April 14,2014
Among the challenges in implementing blended learning into existing schools is that, in most cases, teachers view their classrooms as their domain. Keeping Pace research suggests that successful blended learning implementations are almost always at the school level (or higher, e.g. district level or consortium level). The school-level approach to blended learning, however, collides with the view that teachers own what occurs in their classrooms, because school-wide blended learning implementations often select content, technology platforms, end-user devices, instructional models, and other elements of instruction that teachers are often accustomed to controlling within the classrooms.
Larry Cuban’s recent blog post “Business as Usual in Corporations and Schools” makes a similar point, within a larger (and well worth reading) discussion of power, status, and hierarchy in companies and in schools. Cuban is not an uncritical advocate for technology in education, and often questions people who suggest that online and blended learning are already having a large-scale impact on teaching and learning. He is among the realists who see things as they are, and not as they wish them to be.
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