Welcome to our periodic Worthy of Note!
SREB Educational Technology Cooperative
Worthy of Note: September 17, 2013

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

Broadband and E-Rate 

Broadband in Schools
99 in 5
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The E-Rate Program
Federal Communication Commission
A Consumer Report
The FCC's E-rate program is the government's program for connecting the nation's schools and libraries to broadband. It is the government's largest educational technology programs. When E-rate was established in 1996, only 14 percent of the nation's K-12 classrooms had access to the Internet. Today, virtually all schools and libraries have Internet access. But learning is changing. Innovative digital learning technologies and the growing importance of the Internet in connecting students, teachers, and consumers to jobs, life-long learning, and information, are creating increasing demand for bandwidth in schools and libraries. In an FCC survey of E-rate recipients, nearly half of respondents reported lower speed Internet connectivity than the average American home
despite having, on average, 200 times as many users.
The FCC began updating E-rate in 2010, and is now initiating a full review to modernize the program. This revitalization is centered around three proposed goals:
  • Increased connectivity to high-capacity broadband
  • Efficient purchasing through bulk buying, consortia, and competitive bidding improvements
  • Cutting red tape to speed, streamline, and increase transparency in application reviews

Ed Tech Initiatives

A state-by-state look at top ed-tech initiatives
Laura Devaney, eSchool News, September 13, 2013
This is a compiled list of one ed-tech initiative in each state and the District of Columbia, to offer a look at some of the great technology advocacy and work being done around the nation.

Trends in Education

Five education trends for the new school year
Meris Stansbury, eSchool News, August 23, 2013
Trends in education are always appearing, such as iPads and online testing (and remember virtual reality classrooms?), but with recent developments in national standards and a new federal emphasis on equity, the 2013-14 school year will have a set of trends all its own. Trends in eTextbooks, coding will dominate the 2013-14 school year.

Digital Literacy

Teaching Critical 21st Century Skills
eSchool News
Today’s students need more than just instruction in the core topic areas. They also need to develop key 21st-century skills that will serve them well in a globally competitive, information-based society, such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. These skills will be critical for success on the new Common Core assessments set to begin next year.
But teaching these skills can be a challenge, which is why a growing number of schools are adopting a project-based learning approach to instruction. With the generous support of, this collection of resources will help you integrate 21st century skills into your own curriculum.
Understanding the central themes of the Common Core Standards and the need to develop digital literacy and 21st century skills in today’s classrooms
Amber Parks, The Learning Project
Today’s students need to do more than just learn the concepts and skills introduced in daily instruction in order to be successful. They need to know how to use technology to acquire knowledge, analyze and evaluate information, explore, draw conclusions and test theories. More importantly, they need to know how to apply what they learned to real-life scenarios. Students need to learn how to think critically and creatively, navigate an increasingly digital world safely, and conduct meaningful research that will lead to understanding through discovery. The goal of the Common Core State Standards is, in part, to promote these same
School libraries: A shift to digital
Laura Devaney, eSchool News, September 4, 2013
The school library is changing. Instead of a stuffy and silent space filled with books, today’s school libraries are becoming collaboration centers, where teachers and librarians work together to help students develop technology skills and evaluate digital information.


Report: The Future of Collaboration Is Cross-Platform
David Nagel, Campus Technology September 9, 2013
By 2016, most collaborative technologies will be available across devices, from Web browsers to desktop software to native smart phone and tablet apps, according to a new report released by market research firm Gartner.


Report: Digital Badges Help Learners Demonstrate Accomplishments, Need Documentation for Credibility
Leila Meyer, Campus Technology, September 29, 2013
Digital badges can help students pursue personal learning pathways and provide a standardized platform for learners to demonstrate their accomplishments, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Mozilla Foundation.
The report, "Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities Through Digital Badges," examines how digital badges can be used to improve student learning and outcomes. It explains what digital badges are and how they work, provides examples of digital badges that have already been implemented, and speculates on the future of the system.
Badges and the Common Core
Edutopia, September 11, 2013
One of the main goals of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is to prepare students for "college- and career-ready performance." According to, "English language arts and math were the subjects chosen for the Common Core State Standards because they are areas upon which students build skill sets which are used in other subjects." Badges can acknowledge the learning that has occurred along the way. 

Data Analytics

How Districts Use Data to Drive Proactive Decisions: Benefits and Best Practices for Creating a Data-Rich Culture
Education Week, White Paper sponsored by SAS
As schools attempt to improve student outcomes and maximize the use of limited resources, snapshot mandated reporting is no longer enough. Using data for continuous improvement at the school and district levels is crucial. This paper details a webinar hosted by Education Week in which education professionals from CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) and Rock Hill (SC) School District 3 discuss the benefits and value of using data – and the culture shift required to become data-driven.
The Coming Big Data Education Revolution
Doug Guthrie, U. S. News, August 15, 2013
Big data, not MOOCS, will give institutions the predictive tools they need to improve outcomes for individual students.

Using Data in the Classroom
Pedagogic Resources
National Science Digital Library
This page contains links and references that provide information or background about pedagogical or practical issues in using data in the classroom.


Major 'MOOC' Provider Makes $1 Million in Student Revenues
Michele Molnar, Education Week, Digital Education, September 13, 2013
Coursera, a massive open online course (MOOC) provider, announced yesterday that it has made some money, collecting $1 million from students wanting "verified certificates" in recognition of successfully completing its free courses.
That pales in comparison to the amount of funding Coursera has raised — $22 million last year and $43 million in Series B funding this July. But this first $1 million in user-generated revenue could be just the earliest confirmation of the prediction by venture capitalist Matt Greenfield that MOOCs can, indeed, make money,
Answers for Middle-Aged Seekers of MOOCs, Part 1
Cathy N. Davidson, New York Times, September 4, 2013
Advice for Middle-Age Seekers of MOOCs, Part 2
Cathy N. Davidson, New York Times, September 11, 2013
Cathy N. Davidson, a professor of English and interdisciplinary studies at Duke University, is answering questions about how to find and use Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other online continuing education tools. 

First STEMx MOOC Takes Place Sept. 19–21
David Nagel, Campus Technology, September 9, 2013
The International Society for Technology in Education will host the 2013 Global STEMx Education Conference, a MOOC dedicated to STEMx educators.

Online Learning

Florida Virtual School Faces Hard Times
Benjamin Herold, Education Week, August 27, 2013
The Florida Virtual School — the largest state-sponsored online K-12 school in the country — is facing troubled times, a sign of major policy shifts now reshaping the world of online education.
Performance-based funding: You get what you pay for
Julia Freeland, Clayton Christensen Institute, September 11, 2013
As we see the growth of virtual school options, I anticipate that more states will contemplate performance-based funding schemes. Michael Horn noted this trend in his “Digital Roundup” in the most recent issue of Education Next. Florida, for example, reimburses the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) using a completion-based funding formula. This means per-pupil course funding is provided only upon a student’s successful completion of the course. Utah’s Senate Bill 65 stipulates that providers receive 50 per cent of funding upfront and the other half upon student completion. These early examples hold promise as online learning spreads and concerns about appropriate accountability mechanisms grow with it. As Michael Horn also noted, the next wave in performance-based funding will hopefully include actual measures of student performance rather than just paying providers based on course completion.
Analyzing 346 Online Course Reviews
Brian Bridges, California Learning Resources Network, September 4, 2013
346 published reviews are significant and it provides us a critical mass of data to analyze. What’s disappointing is that 27% of all online courses don’t teach what their course titles claim to offer. While some publishers have told us that students who take their courses successfully complete them, competency of 40% of the Common Core Algebra I standards isn’t something to brag about. Read more….
Keeping Pace 2013 preview: State-Supported Supplemental Online Course Options
John Watson, Keeping Pace, September 12, 2013
This is a preview of the next Keeping Pace at the iNACOL Symposium in October. One of the important discussions this year — which we have touched on in previous blog posts — is around the ways in which some states are moving to provide supplemental online courses via course choice programs along with, or instead of, state virtual schools.
Keeping Pace 2013 preview: Multi-district fully online schools
John Watson, Keeping Pace, September 16, 2013
Among the data points that Keeping Pace has tracked for several years is the number of students attending fully online schools that operate across states (or, in California, across multiple districts because no online schools can operate statewide).
Top 3 solutions to cheating in online education
Denny Carter, eCampus News
Here's a rundown of the four most common -- and popular -- ways colleges, universities, and MOOC platforms are battling against cheating in online courses. Keystroke monitoring software: Instead of relying on passwords or fingerprint scans, many online programs and some major MOOC platforms are exploring the use of technology that recognizes and identifies keystroke patterns. Register and logon to read more ...

The Biggest Myths (And Realities) Of Online Learning
Katie Lepi, Edudemic, September 8, 2013
The handy infographic takes a look at some of the common myths about online learning, following them up with a more accurate representation, as well as some of the things that online learning offers students, regardless of age or the subject that they’re studying. (Source: Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart, How Digital Learning is Changing the World, Jossey-Bass. 2011)

Competency-Based Degrees

2 Texas Colleges Will Offer Competency-Based Hybrid Degree
Hannah Winston, The Chronicle, September 5, 2013
Texas A&M University at Commerce and South Texas College said Thursday that they are working with Pearson Education to open a competency-based, affordable hybrid degree for Texas students by next spring. The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program is set to offer a 90-credit-hour online program that relies on a competency-based curriculum, according to a news release.


Beyond Grades
Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, August 2, 2013
Testing firms are offering new ways to measure what students learn in college. Their next generation of assessments is billed as an add-on — rather than a replacement — to the college degree. But the tests also give graduates something besides a transcript to send to a potential employer.
As a result, skills assessments are related to potential higher education “disruptions” like competency-based education or even digital badging. They offer portable ways for students to show what they know and what they can do. And in this case, they’re verified by testing giants.


State Authorization: Updates on SARA, the Military, and the USDOE Regulation
WCET Frontiers
In the last several weeks there have been several developments regarding state authorization of distance education courses and programs. Here is a summary of those activities.

Flipped/Inverted Classrooms

What’s different about the inverted classroom?
Robert Talbert, The Chronicle, August 6, 2013
First, the inverted classroom places a lot of intentional structure on the out-of-class experience. We don’t just hand students a book or a PDF or a bunch of videos and say, Read/Watch these and then we’ll discuss them in class.
Second, the inverted classroom has a specific purpose for class time as well, and this purpose seems slightly different than an ordinary studio/lab/seminar course. I think that purpose is to put all students in situations where they have to make a leap in their knowledge – and also to be maximally available when this leap occurs.

Personalized Learning

2013 Q3 Special Report: Pathways to Personalized Learning
Center for Digital Education
This CDE Special Report looks at the personalized learning movement sweeping through K-20 education. It presents research and firsthand accounts of how personalized learning is transforming the way we have traditionally viewed the educational model, and how leaders can overcome challenges to bring its benefits to their institutions. In the 2013 survey commissioned for this Special Report, out of 120 K-20 education officials, 63 percent said creating a personalized learning environment was a top priority for their education institutions.

Tablets in the Classroom

No Child Left Untableted
Carlo Rotello, New York Times Magazine, September 12, 2013
Sally Hurd Smith, a veteran teacher, held up her brand-new tablet computer and shook it as she said, “I don’t want this thing to take over my classroom.” Read about these alternatives.

Rethinking Tablets in K-12 Education
Center for Digital Education
Tablets are becoming ubiquitous — over 100 million were sold by the end of 2011, with sales rising ever since. While all sectors of society are experiencing rapid increases in tablet use, a significant transformation is occurring in the field of education — schools are now using tablets more than ever before. That said, not all tablets are created equal, and some serve the educational marketplace better than others. This Center for Digital Education thought leadership paper, sponsored by Dell, expands on the challenges of tablet management in K-12 education. Read more…


Advanced Persistent Threats: Higher Ed Security Risks
Center for Digital Education
Higher education institutions are facing numerous data security challenges. One of the most insidious types of attacks today is Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). Learn about the threats to higher education and offers strategies for dealing with them.


Free Resources: Saylor Foundation Opens Thousands of Learning Tools to Colleges and Universities
David Nagel, Campus Technology, September 21, 2013
The Saylor Foundation has opened its Media Library to the public, providing thousands of open educational resources, videos, articles, and full-length textbooks.

Core Math Tools Home
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Core Math Tools is a downloadable suite of interactive software tools for algebra and functions, geometry and trigonometry, and statistics and probability. The tools are appropriate for use with any high school mathematics curriculum and compatible with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in terms of content and mathematical practices. Java required.
Learning Registry
The learning registry is a new approach to capturing, connecting and sharing data about learning resources available online with the goal of making it easier for educators and students to access the rich content available in our ever-expanding digital universe.
Today large collections of learning resources sit online, waiting to be accessed. The burden of locating these resources, assessing their quality, connecting them to related resources, and sharing them with others often falls on individual educators.
The Learning Registry makes all of these activities easier by acting as an aggregator of metadata — data about the learning resources available online — including the publisher, location, content area, standards alignment, ratings, reviews, and more. The graphic illustration is important to this discussion.
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