Hang Out your Shingles V TEachers

Much of this is live blogged.  Please forgive mispellings and awekward writing.

I get to sit this morning.  It’s 9:00 and Brenda and I went back to Early Girl for another omlette.  This morning it was a build-your-own, which was almost as good as the black bean omlette I ordered yesterday.  I’m sitting in a small auditorium, getting ready to learn about how “Online Learning = 21st Century Skills.” 

The presenter is Mark Sample from Stanly Community College.  We don’t seem to have WiFi here, or else I could look this feller up, so, we’ll just swim with what ever life raft he throws out to us. The opening slide says, North Carolina Virtual Public School. The person who was supposed to be presenting, could not be here.  I do not know who the speaker is, but he certainly looks familiar.  He is talking about North Carolina’s shift ABCs of Public Education, to the new Future_Read Students for th 21st Century.  The goals of this program are for schools to:

  • NC public schools will produce globally competitive students.
  • NC public schools will be led by 21st Century professionals.
  • NC public school students will be healthy and responsible.
  • Leadership will guide innovation in NC public schools.
  • NC public schools will be governed and supported by 21st Century systems.

Michigan now requires all students to take at least one online course to graduate.  The speaker says that North Carolina is not far behind this. They just opened up an online AP Exams course, and in the first week they had 8,000 enrollments. The NCVPS promises not to establish enrollment caps.  If students want they course or more seats (virtually), then they will find the teachers.  The presenter also said that they have redefined seat time.  He didn’t explain what he meant by that, but it is promising.

They’ve recruited 350+ teachers, but need many more.  They are providing professional development for virtual teachers.  Seems to me like a whole new job/career as online teacher.  I have to talk to my daughter about this.

One common question has been asked — how do you assure security in online courses.  How can you be sure that the student actually is the one who took the test…  The presenter says that any course for which an EOC test is requred at the end, a School must administer the test face-to-face.  For all other courses, portfolio assessment will be used.

I know now.  The presenter is David Edwards, Chief Marketing Officer, former director of technology for Lenoir County Schools.  That’s where I know him.

One of the more contentious issues that has risen from the NC Virtual Public School program, is that some schools have been providing many enrichment courses to students through Virtual High School, courses like Introduction to Vet Medicine, The Holocaust, and The History of Rock-N-Roll.  They are now required to get all of their online courses from NCVPS, who does not yet offer these types of courses.  There is s great deal of frustration around this, among secondary school distance learning folks.  Edwards promises that they are working as fast as they can to add in the enrichment classes.  They were mandated by the legislature to offer the core courses first — courses that help kids graduate.

Edwards had said earlier that students could take only specific modules within a single online cours.  So I asked about students taking modules, asking for a scenario of a problem that this might solve.  Edwards said (paraphrased), Student takes the Algebra II EOC (End of Course) test and fails.  But in reviewing their test, they simply bombed polynomials.  That student can then take only the polynomials module of the online course, and then complete the course, rather than sitting in Algebra II again.  home run!  Bingo! 

Much of the rest of the morning was shop talk. a lot of acronyms that I know most of the attendees work with every day, but they meant nothing to me.  One idea that occurs to me, however, especially as I hear several times that they are mandated to offer services of high need is that they are working to the left of the long tail.  They are working to solve common needs, and in a world of scarcity, this makes perfect sense.  But how do you move into the long tail, to offering courses and services that are desired by only 1000 students across the state, or 100, or 10. It seems that it would be technically possible to create an open tool with which anyone could create and populate a course one some topic of personal interest, expertise, or experience.  There would be standards of quality and probably a streamlined and timely approval procedure.  But then the personal who creates the course might be payed for maintaining and facilitating it per enrollment.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.