Welcome to our periodic Worthy of Note!
SREB Educational Technology Cooperative
Worthy of Note: January 2, 2014

Prepared by June Weis
Find archives of Worthy of Note here. Sign up for our e-mailing lists there, too.



Confessions of the NOTYs: How Technology Helps Teachers Succeed
SREB/iNACOL National Online Teachers of the Year talk about teaching and technology. In this report, the NOTY winners and finalists share experiences that can help all teachers integrate technology into the classroom to reach students effectively. Benefits include connecting with every student as an individual; differentiating instruction for individual students; and increasing access to courses. Looking ahead, NOTYs say that teacher preparation programs should introduce teachers to online strategies and that states need strong accountability measures to ensure high quality courses.
SREB Commission Focuses on Career and Technical Education
The goal: Prepare students for many options after high school.
Frankfort, Kentucky, December 10, 2013 — Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear today charged a new commission to update career and technical education so more students graduate equipped with both the academic and technical know-how for rewarding careers in today’s workforce.
FCC’s Connect America Fund to Expand Broadband to Nearly 400,000 Rural Homes and Businesses in 41 States
Washington, D.C.
Over $ 255 million in funding to provide new broadband access to over 400,000homes and businesses in rural areas of 41states has been authorized from the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund, connecting nearly 1million people who lack service.
SREB states are receiving a combined total of $176,798,150 to serve 262,027 locations. That's 69% of the funding and 67% of the total number of locations.



Non-Profit EducationSuperHighway Launches Comprehensive National Effort to Upgrade the Internet Access in America’s Public Schools
San Francisco, December 4, 2013EducationSuperHighway, the nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing high speed broadband to the nation’s K-12 public schools, today announced that it is launching a comprehensive national effort to upgrade America’s schools. Mark Zuckerberg’s Startup:Education, the Gates Foundation and several other foundations and education entities are making a multi-year investment in EducationSuperHighway’s mission to ensure all students have equal access to the promise of digital learning.


Digital Public Library of America

Digital Public Library of America: Young but Well Connected
Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle, December 9, 2013
This past spring, after years of hopeful talk, the idea of a U.S. national digital library took the leap into reality.
The early signs are promising. After only seven months, the Digital Public Library of America, or DPLA, serves as the central link in an expanding network of cultural institutions that want to make their holdings more visible to the public. It has attracted financial support from foundations and government agencies, among them the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and, mostly recently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And it's begun to attract not only users in search of far-flung information but also developers who want to build new tools and applications on its open-source platform.
"I think one of the reasons people like DPLA is you can find material from a small rural archive alongside things from the Smithsonian," Mr. Cohen says.


Net Neutrality

The End of the Internet As We Know It
Jenn Topper, Common Dreams, December 12, 2013
Unless the FCC protects net neutrality, the biggest Internet providers will run amok.
In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission tried to establish concrete rules to protect net neutrality. But the agency ended up caving to pressure from the biggest phone and cable companies and left huge loopholes standing in the way of a truly open Internet.
And now Verizon is in court challenging those rules — and the FCC’s authority to draft and enforce them to protect consumers and promote competition. That’s because under the Bush administration, the FCC decided to give away much of its authority to oversee our broadband networks. The current FCC could fix the problem by reclaiming this authority, but it hasn’t yet.


Online Education — and MOOCs

Online Education: More Than MOOCs
Inside Higher Ed
"Online Education: More Than MOOCs" is a collection of news articles and opinion essays -- in print-on-demand format -- about the many forms of online learning that continue to develop outside the white-hot glare of hype surrounding massive open online courses. The articles aim to put recent developments in online education into long-term context, and the essays present the timely thinking of commentators about experts about how distance education is affecting learning and colleges' business models.
The goal is to provide some of Inside Higher Ed's best recent material (both news articles and opinion essays) in one easy-to-read place. Download the booklet here.
What if You Blended Adaptive Learning With MOOCs?
Steve Kolowich, Wired Campus, Chronicle, December 19, 2013
MOOCs and adaptive-learning software are often billed as two of the most potentially game-changing technologies in higher education. The White House, for one, is excited to see what might happen if and when those two technologies meet. It would seem natural to combine massive-open-online-course platforms, which accommodate thousands of students, with adaptive-learning software, which responds to the needs of individual students. But so far that has not happened.
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology this month wrote a letter to President Obama briefing him on MOOCs. In the letter, released on Wednesday, the group told the president that while “the jury is out” on the long-term implications of MOOCs, the scale of the massive courses could yet improve access to higher education while reducing its cost. If it does, adaptive-learning software may play a role, the advisers suggested.
From a Million MOOC Users, a Few Early Research Results 
Lawrence Biemiller, Wired Campus, The Chronicle, December 6, 2013
Preliminary results of a study of 16 massive open online courses offered through the University of Pennsylvania show that only a small percentage of people who start the courses finish them—and that, on average, only half of those who register for the courses even watch the first lecture. The study, conducted by the university’s Graduate School of Education, is reviewing data from about a million users of the courses, which Penn offered on the Coursera platform, from June 2012 to June 2013. Read more…
Researchers Push MOOC Conversation Beyond ‘Tsunami’ Metaphors
Steve Kolowich, Wired Campus, The Chronicle, December 9, 2013
Arlington, Texas — Dozens of higher-education researchers convened here last week, in the midst of a snowstorm, to talk about a tsunami. Massive open online courses have been a hot topic at higher-education conferences for about two years. But the objective of the MOOC Research Initiative Conference, which brought together dozens of researchers from universities involved in MOOCs, was to move beyond the hype and try to begin sorting out what, exactly, the courses might mean for various parts of higher education.
The MOOC Research Initiative, which is bankrolled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to create that more serious literature. The initiative has given researchers $10,000 to $25,000 each to collect and analyze data from MOOCs. Eventually those research projects will turn into papers, the best of which will appear next spring in an issue of The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, a peer-reviewed journal.
After Setbacks, Online Courses Are Rethought
Tamar Lewin, NYTimes, December 10, 2013
Two years after a Stanford professor drew 160,000 students from around the globe to a free online course on artificial intelligence, starting what was widely viewed as a revolution in higher education, early results for such large-scale courses are disappointing, forcing a rethinking of how college instruction can best use the Internet. A study of a million users of massive open online courses, known as MOOCs, released this month by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education found that, on average, only about half of those who registered for a course ever viewed a lecture, and only about 4 percent completed the courses.
The First Cohort
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, December 13, 2013
The Georgia Institute of Technology has admitted its first 401 students to the low-cost online master’s degree program in computer science created in partnership with massive open online course provider Udacity, and the January launch will be the first step toward seeing how scalable such a program can be. The fully online degree program has been highlighted as a potential business model for Udacity both before and after founder Sebastian Thrun’s much-debated “pivot,” a profile in Fast Company that claimed Thrun “no longer believes the hype” about MOOCs. The degree, which can take anywhere from three to six years to complete, costs $6,600 -- less than one-sixth of the full price of a residential program. The pilot launches Jan. 14, 2014, and may enroll as many as 10,000 students over the next few years.


Keeping Pace

Online learning requirements: Part 1 – True requirements
Amy Murin, Keeping Pace, December 6, 2013
We are frequently asked which states require students to take an online course in order to graduate. As of September 2013, four states require students to complete an online course to graduate (Alabama, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia) and two more (North Carolina and Arkansas) are in the process of implementing such a requirement; details about these states are included below. Read more.
Online learning requirements: Part 2 – States with recommendations
Amy Murin, Keeping Pace, December 9, 2013
One of the questions we are asked the most often is which states require students to take an online course in order to graduate. On Friday we looked at states with a true online learning requirement, and today we’ll look at states that recommend and encourage online learning.
In addition to the states with a true requirement noted Friday (Alabama, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia), two states are poised to have requirements. The State Board of Education in North Carolina has passed a requirement that is expected to be implemented beginning in SY 2014-15, and to be required for all students by 2020. Arkansas is piloting a requirement with a handful of districts and charter schools in SY 2013-14 to allow the state to learn implementation lessons; it is expected that the requirement will expand statewide in SY 2014-15.
Keeping Pace 2013 is now available! The 10th edition includes updated enrollment numbers, graphics, and policy information. Download the full report, scroll down for individual graphics, or browse individual state profiles.


State Authorization

Announcing the Update on the National State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement webcast
Join us on Thursday, January 23 at Noon MST for the What's New with SARA? Update on the National State Reciprocity Agreement webcast. The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) will create interstate reciprocity in the regulation of postsecondary distance education. The four regional higher education compacts - the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, New England Board of Higher Education, Southern Regional Education Board, and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, will collaborate to make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines, as well as making it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education.
Join Marshall Hill, executive director of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA); Rhonda Epper, director of WICHE SARA; and Russell Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis at WCET for a webcast update on SARA.
*Space is limited and priority will be given to current WCET members who register prior to January 16. If your institution is not a WCET member, you are welcome to register and we will confirm your spot after January 16.
Update on SARA – the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement
Russ Poulin, WCET
I’m pleased to announce that SARA now has a website — On our site you’ll find complete information about SARA — history, context, key documents, FAQs, and so forth. I think you’ll find SARA’s Policies and Standards document and the FAQs of particular interest.
Refer to the information in the item above about the webcast on January 23.
Other states have passed legislation or other rules that encourage, but not require online learning.


WICHE Survey

Incomplete Rates
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, December 16, 2013
Colleges and universities that offer distance education are increasingly building their courses to conform with widely accepted best practices for all of higher education, but a study by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies shows many institutions fail to collect crucial data needed to track the effectiveness of programs.
WICHE regularly polls its members to understand how institutions are providing distance education. Fairly or not, massive open online courses -- known for low completion rates -- have stolen the online education spotlight, and in response, this version of the “Managing Online Education” survey sought to explore the “mythology around completion rates for online courses,” among other topics.


Ed-Tech Survey

Here’s why we absolutely need ed-tech
Laura Devaney, eSchool News, December 12, 2013
Ed-tech remains critical to K-12 education, especially when it comes to student success and engagement. A survey of public school teachers and administrators sheds light on why and how ed-tech implementation isn’t reaching its full potential.


Privacy and Student Data

State Assessment Group Approves Privacy Rules for Student Data
Catherine Gewertz, Ed Week (blog), December 5, 2013
The PARCC testing group approved a new policy Thursday that is intended to safeguard personally identifiable information about students that is collected as part of states' common-core assessment regimens. The policy, an executive summary, and a Power Point presentation on the policy can be found on PARCC's website.
Schools Use Web Tools, and Data Is Seen at Risk
Natasha Singer, New York Times, December 12, 2013
Public schools around the country are adopting web-based services that collect and analyze personal details about students without adequately safeguarding the information from potential misuse by service providers, according to new research. This study, Fordham Law National Study Finds Public School Use of Cloud Computing Services Causes Data Privacy Problems, by the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School in New York, found weaknesses in the protection of student information in the contracts that school districts sign when outsourcing web-based tasks to service companies. Many contracts, the study found, failed to list the type of information collected while others did not prohibit vendors from selling personal details — like names, contact information or health status — or using that information for marketing purposes.


Math in Question

Who Says Math Has to Be Boring?
Editorial Board, New York Times, December 7, 2013
One of the biggest reasons for that lack of interest is that students have been turned off to the subjects as they move from kindergarten to high school. Teachers who have no particular expertise in the subjects are teaching many students. They are following outdated curriculums and textbooks. They become convinced they’re “no good at math,” that math and science are only for nerds, and fall behind. American students need vastly improved skills in math and science — they ranked 30th among students in 65 nations in math — but they do not all have to be trained to be mathematicians or scientists. Research has shown that the right mix of career and technical education can reduce dropout rates, and the courses offered don’t have to be from the old “industrial arts” ghettos. They should be taught at a challenging level and make students aware of careers that are now being ignored. The Common Core math standards now being adopted by most states are an important effort to raise learning standards, particularly in primary and middle school, when many students begin to fall behind.


International Test Scores

What You Need to Know About the International Test Scores
Diane Ravich, Common Dreams, December 4, 2013
Here is the background history that you need to know to interpret the PISA score release, as well as Secretary Duncan's calculated effort to whip up national hysteria about our standing in the international league tables. The U.S. has never been first in the world, nor even near the top, on international tests. Over the past half-century, our students have typically scored at or near the median, or even in the bottom quartile.  Read more….


Controlling Technology Costs

Controlling Technology Costs
eCampus News
Campus budgets for instructional technology and other IT costs have taken a hit in recent years—and regardless of how much money is available for these items, campus technology leaders are looking for ways to stretch their ed-tech dollars and get the best possible value for their investment. There are several articles here related to the topic.


“Flipped” or Not

Study Measures Benefits of a ‘Flipped’ Pharmacy Course
Lawrence Biemiller, Wired Campus, December 5, 2013
A study comparing traditional and “flipped” versions of a pharmacy-school course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that students much preferred the flipped course and got better grades on the final examination. The flipped course replaced in-class lectures with videos that the students watched before they came to class to take part in a series of activities—assessments, presentations, discussions, quizzes, and “microlectures.”
The study is to be published in February in Academic Medicine, the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, but it is available online now (it can be downloaded using the “Article as PDF” tool). It reports on the 2011 and 2012 versions of a first-year course for graduate students, “Basic Pharmaceutics II.”

Online AP

Professors in Deal to Design Online Lessons for A.P. Classes
Tamar Lewin, New York Times, December 5, 2013
To ease the way for students grappling with certain key concepts, professors at Davidson College in North Carolina will design online lessons for high school students in Advanced Placement courses in calculus, physics and macroeconomics and make them widely available through the College Board and edX, a nonprofit online education venture.
The Davidson faculty involved in the project had already worked with the College Board, grading or writing Advanced Placement exams or teaching summer workshops for A.P. high school teachers. Now, using the College Board’s data from the Advanced Placement exams in the three subjects, and working with teachers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, they are preparing modules on the trickiest concepts in each subject, including a video lesson and assignments.
High school teachers will be able to use them in their classes or assign them as homework. And the lessons will also be available online on the edX platform for students trying to learn the subject independently.

“A Path Forward” — Higher Ed

Tech-Enabled Alternatives Must Be Part of Education Reform, Report Says
Megan O’Neil, The Chronicle, December 18, 2013
Washington — The U.S. Education Department must experiment with alternative models, such as stackable credentials and competency-based programs, as part of broader reforms of the nation’s postsecondary-education system, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Center for American Progress.
Written by David A. Bergeron, vice president for postsecondary education at the nonpartisan policy-research center and a longtime official at the Education Department, the report is titled “A Path Forward.” It calls for the development of standards and measures—based on job placement, earnings, and other factors—to assess the productivity of such alternative models. It also advocates engaging employers in order to better align higher education with workplace needs.

Common Core Tech Report

Common Core Tech Report
CDW-G, June 24, 2013
CDW-G’s latest research, Common Core Tech Report, surveyed 300 IT professionals in public schools around the country to understand how well prepared they are to meet the technology requirements of Common Core, how districts are prioritizing Common Core and the technology challenges they face. Download the Report


Big Data

Monsanto’s scary new scheme: Why does it really want all this data?
Lina Khan, Salon, December 29, 2013
This is all about technology, just not educational technology. But look at Big Data in the farming industry. As biotech giant pays huge sums for data analysis about farms, many are terrified about how it might be harnessed. Imagine cows fed and milked entirely by robots. Or tomatoes that send an e-mail when they need more water. Or a farm where all the decisions about where to plant seeds, spray fertilizer and steer tractors are made by software on servers on the other side of the sea.
This is what more and more of our agriculture may come to look like in the years ahead, as farming meets Big Data.



Google Scholar Library
Amy Cavender, The Chronicle, December 19, 2013
Among Google’s tools for getting work done, we here at ProfHacker have long been fans of Google Scholar. It’s a useful tool for finding good sources, it can be used to track citations to your work, and setting up an alert in Google Scholar is a great way to keep track of new publications on a topic. Google keeps developing the service, and a few weeks ago, they added a new feature: Google Scholar Library. That blog entry and the service’s help page explain quite well how to use this new feature, so I won’t go into detail about that here.
Technology Trends for Teachers to Try in 2014
Kelsey Sheehy, U. S. News, December 23, 2013
There is no shortage of tools to help teachers engage students. Here are three tech trends teachers can try in 2014.

7 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2014
Ellyssa Kroski, OEDB, December 23, 2013
Technology trends in both higher ed and K-12 classrooms continue to evolve and transform traditional learning environments. New learning analytics, mobile devices, open online learning, and 3D printers are some of the many Educational technology trends to be on the lookout for in 2014.  Here’s a detailed discussion.

Learn how Google can improve student learning 
Michael Sharnoff, eSchool News, December 27, 2013
Brief recap of the eSchool News webinar, “Going 1:1 with Google in Education at Hillsborough Township Public Schools.”
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