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Introducing the Connect Thinking E-Learning Academy


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Whitepaper: Building a Deep Learning Culture While Making the Technology that Supports it Invisible

This white paper examines how technology supports SLA’s core values, culture, and learning environment.

Download this white paper (PDF)

One of the leading public schools embracing inquiry-driven, project-based learning is the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia. It is a partnership between  the School District of Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute. SLA provides a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum focused on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship. The first high school opened in Center City Philadelphia in 2006 and a second campus, SLA-Beeber, opened in the fall of 2013. SLA has a total enrollment of 700 students.

Founding principal Chris Lehmann and his team have created a dynamic teaching and learning community based on the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection. These core values are integrated into all aspects of the school from the curriculum to admissions and hiring practices.
Download this white paper (PDF)

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4 Things Adult Students Should Look for When Choosing a School

Photo: Lori Eggleston Thorp
"The application process. The registration process. The financial aid process. Yes, there are a lot of processes when it comes to returning to school to finish (or start) your degree." according to Lori Eggleston Thorp, director of New College Support Services at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.
Photo: Huffington Post

Before you dive into all that, consider another one: the selection process. How can you find a university that's a good fit for you? What can (and should) you expect from a university? And where do you start?

Reputation, reputation, reputation
Start by doing your research. Look for colleges with rankings and recognition on national, regional and local levels. Learn about partnerships and programs between a university and businesses and nonprofits in its community. Read student, alumni and professor satisfaction surveys. Find out what companies hire graduates. You're getting a degree to get ahead in your career -- make sure it's going to work in your favor by providing you with skills and contacts that will set you apart and make it worth your while.

Mix and match
Most colleges offer a variety of class formats. You can come to campus for class each week. You can take a class online. You can meet once a month on Saturday. Some classes are a mix of in-person and online sessions. Consider what format best matches your learning style. Do you have the self-motivation to be successful in online classes? Do you want more interaction with your professor and peers than you'll get online? Or would you like to have all these options available?


Source: Huffington Post

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Pairing E-Portfolios With Badges To Document Informal Learning

Meg Lloyd, Northern California-based freelance writer summarizes, "In order to support the recognition of co-curricular and integrative learning, the University of Notre Dame came up with a campuswide strategy to integrate digital badges in students' e-portfolios."

Notre Dame students can use digital badges to document informal learning in their e-portfolios.
E-portfolios have always offered an avenue to showcase informal learning, but at the University of Notre Dame's Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning, digital learning designers realized that the maximum potential of e-portfolios on their campus was not being met. Most students were not taking full advantage of e-portfolios to document the integration of formal and informal learning.

Project lead G. Alex Ambrose
The key, Kaneb's learning scientists determined, was to promote the inclusion of digital badges in the e-portfolio. "If we are going to harness the full power and promise of e-portfolios beyond a single course assignment and show employers what students know and can do, then we need the digital badge to communicate specific competencies with evidence and motivate students to make their learning and skills visible," said G. Alex Ambrose, associate director of e-portfolio assessment at the university. Ambrose and his team came up with a campuswide strategy to develop a technology integration for the university's digital badge and e-portfolio systems.

The integration came about in three project phases. The first phase, said Ambrose, was in effect a do-it-yourself effort in which the project team coordinated between Notre Dame's Digication e-portfolio system and other campus-based systems. Students who wished to earn badges were asked to submit evidence to Digication's backend Assessment Management System, so that evidence claims for badges could be collected, scored and stored. After the evidence was evaluated and badges could be awarded, the team sent badge earners a picture file to display on their e-portfolio, along with a verification link that connected back to Notre Dame's badge directory.
Read more... 

Source: Campus Technology

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Campus Tech 2015: Move Over MOOCs

Follow on Twitter as @TEBuckTMG
Tara E. Buck, managing editor of EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education reports, "Southern New Hampshire University president argues true disruption comes in the form of online, competency-based providers who deftly meet modern students’ — and industry’s — needs."

“Ten to 15 years ago, the problem was access. Now the problem is, how do we get more people to complete?”,” says Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc.

In May, Southern New Hampshire University conferred 318 nursing student degrees — a record for the nonprofit institution.
“The growth in nursing students can be attributed to a number of factors, including the increased demand driven by an aging population, as well as an older workforce with a significant number of Baby Boomers approaching retirement age,” a release from the university states. “In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 19.4 percent growth in nursing between now and 2022, with some 1.1 million jobs available nationwide by 2022.”

That reality also directly influences a few of the university’s priorities, President Paul LeBlanc told those gathered Tuesday at the opening plenary keynote for Campus Technology 2015 in Boston. The first priority is meeting the needs of today’s modern students, who increasingly juggle competing demands for their time, attention and finances. Another priority is meeting the evolving needs of industry — and that means graduating students who are fully prepared to take on the challenges of today’s modern work environments and meet employers’ demands. U.S. higher education, generally, has not evolved quickly enough to meet those goals, LeBlanc said...

Technology-Backed Education  
“One of the things I see in a lot of institutions when we talk about innovation is a shotgun approach: Everyone is talking about MOOCs, let’s do MOOCs,” LeBlanc said. “What problem did the University of Virginia Board of Trustees think they were solving by forcing [former university President Teresa A. Sullivan] to produce MOOCs?” 

When higher education sets out to leverage new technology and tools as a means of fixing or reinventing itself, LeBlanc asked, which specific higher education is being fixed?

“One of the issues I have with our policy discussions: We talk about higher education for 18-year-olds, of people coming out of high school. In reality, there are many higher educations, and they all have their own problems and policy issues to solve.”

Higher education also includes military academies, research institutions, traditional liberal arts colleges, what he termed “big-time sports higher ed” and, increasingly, nontraditional higher education for adult learners — the list goes on. The problem nontraditional higher education should aim to solve is how to meet adult and nontraditional learners’ needs and help them prove competencies to current and future employers, LeBlanc said.

Source: EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education

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Tennessee College of Applied Technology Clarksville Campus to host Grand Opening August 4th

Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Dickson is pleased to announce that it is hosting a grand opening event for its Clarksville extension campus.

Industrial Maintenance/Electricity instructor Steve Shaw instructs student Greg Haler on the mechanical operations of robotics. 
Photo: Clarksville Online

The event, being held at 135 International Boulevard. in Clarksville on Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 from 11:00am – 1:00pm, is an opportunity for all to come and view the new facility, the upgraded equipment, and to the meet faculty and staff.

A ribbon cutting with the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce will occur at 11:00 am and will be followed by presentations from Tennessee Board of Regents representatives, institutional leadership, and community leaders. An open house with tours will conclude the event.

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Clarksville Campus, or TCAT Clarksville Campus, is an extension of TCAT Dickson and is a post-secondary institution that provides career and technical education with the mission of building a strong workforce for the State of Tennessee. 
Through its efforts of preparing individuals for the workforce, TCAT Clarksville Campus contributes to the economic and community development of Montgomery and surround counties.

The institution provides competency-based training to individual students, as well as special industry training for local employers. TCAT Dickson is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents and is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education. 
Read more...  

Related link
Additional information about the college is located at

Source: Clarksville Online

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Freedom to Experiment Presents Challenges for School Innovation Networks

Benjamin Herold, staff writer for Education Week writes, "Giving small networks of schools autonomy to try new approaches with technology requires a delicate balance of logistical freedom and district technical support."

Fourth graders used new low-cost laptop computers in 2012 at Ashley Park Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., as part of a public-private partnership to encourage educational technology innovation. But the computing initiative ran into challenges because of a lack of technological support and it is no longer using those laptops. Photo: Education Week

Frustrated by the lack of innovation in K-12 education, a growing number of district leaders are giving small networks of schools the freedom and resources to try new approaches with classroom technology. 

But the approach can be rife with technical and logistical challenges, as can be seen in the experience of North Carolina’s 145,000-student Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

There, after two years and nearly $3 million, a network of nine semi-autonomous schools known as Project LIFT has mostly ditched its own student-laptop initiative. Ironically, Project LIFT is now embracing closer coordination with the system-wide strategy of the very district to which it was supposed to be an alternative.
“There have been lessons learned,” said Denise Watts, the learning communities superintendent who oversees the network. “We do not function on an island.”

Even autonomous schools must often still rely on their host district’s central office for broadband and wireless infrastructure, technical assistance, and administrative support. Just introducing devices and software into classrooms in no way guarantees that instruction will change—or that schools’ manifold reporting and compliance obligations will be done more efficiently. And while big private donations may generate headlines, they don’t always result in what schools actually need.

Despite those common challenges, experts in the field say it would be wrong to view such experiments as failures.

“There’s a downside in thwarting people’s initiative, regardless of how things turn out,” said Steven Hodas, a practitioner-in-residence at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research and policy-advocacy center at the University of Washington. “When a district makes a [system-wide] mistake, it impinges on a lot more people than when nine schools try something that doesn’t work,” he said.

Source: Education Week

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Debunk 6 Myths About the Cost of Online Education

Follow on Twitter as @DevonHaynie
"Students shouldn't assume online education is cheaper than brick-and-mortar options." according to Devon Haynie, education reporter at U.S. News, covering online education. 

Photo: U.S. News & World Report

When it comes to choosing an online degree, a program's price tag tends to be the most important factor for prospective students.  

In a recent report about online learners, 45 percent of respondents said they ended up choosing the most inexpensive program among their options, up from 30 percent in 2014. 

While choosing an online degree can indeed be a wise move for a student's budget, buyers should beware that the cost of a virtual program isn't always what it seems. Below are several myths about the cost of online education. 

1. Tuition in online programs is less expensive. 
In the absence of dining halls, libraries, climbing walls and other amenities, prospective students could be forgiven for assuming that online tuition is lower than  tuition for on-ground programs. But that's not always the case. "I think there is a misconception that online is cheaper, and it's not," says Christine Shakespeare, assistant vice president of continuing and professional education at Pace University
Officials at online programs list a variety of reasons for charging the same – or even more – tuition than brick-and-mortar programs. Some say it's because they still have to pay the same faculty costs. Others say the expense of providing technology and campus services cancels out any cost savings. 
Even if tuition for an online program looks appealingly low, students should be sure to look into whether they will be paying any additional fees, says Vickie Cook, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois—Springfield. 
"They can be associated with classes or a program or the online environment," she says. Since fees are not always listed on a school's website, students will need to do additional digging to determine the total cost of their program. 

2. There are plenty of scholarships for online students.  
With some exceptions, few schools offer scholarships specifically for distance learners. But that doesn't mean all hope is lost. A school may not restrict its scholarships solely to on-campus students, says Susan Aldridge, president of Drexel University Online.
"If a donor donates funds to the university, very rarely have I ever seen anything where it's restricted to face-to-face students," she says. Instead of asking whether there are any scholarships specifically for online students, students should ask about scholarships in general, she says. "If they receive any pushback from the admissions office, they should just ask if the donors have any restrictions with online students." 

Source: U.S. News & World Report

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Has E-Learning Gone Wild Again?

Photo: Josh Bersin
"Online education is back with a vengeance — and it works." according to Josh Bersin, the principal and founder of Bersin & Associates. 
Photo: Chief Learning Office

E-learning is back again, and this time with a vengeance. To illustrate what I mean, let me first provide a little history.

Back in 1999, when the Internet was young, a group of pioneering companies believed that education, learning and professional development would be disrupted by the Internet. Outgoing Cisco CEO John Chambers was famously quoted in January 2001 stating, e-learning will “make email look like a rounding error.”

Many big companies at that time told me,  “brick-and-mortar universities are dead;” they said virtual universities were going to take over. Many of us believed this, just like we believed that companies like Webvan were going to take over brick-and-mortar grocery stores.

Big vendors at that time included DigitalThink, Click2Learn, SmartForce, NETg, SkillSoft and Ninth House Networks. There were hundreds of others — most of which have disappeared or been acquired.

The concept was simple: Freed from the cost and time of travel, we could learn online and save our companies millions of dollars. Education would be done virtually, and even live instruction would be done online. 

E-learning received a huge boost during the recession of 2000-01. Companies trimmed learning budgets significantly, which fueled the market for learning management systems, online content and content development tools. 

In the ensuing decade, we all learned a lot. First, we learned that online learning as defined in those years was not enough. At first, people enjoyed the page-turning, somewhat slow flash-based content at first, but it got boring fast. Soon people realized e-learning should be blended with other educational experiences, leading to a decade of work in blended learning development.

Source: Chief Learning Office

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Jacksonville Group Connecting Teachers To Improve Training

John O'Connor, the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida summarizes, "At one point, the Schultz Center had state funding and a big, multi-million dollar contract with Duval County schools to help teachers improve their craft."

The Schultz Center has trained thousands of teachers since it was founded in Jacksonville in 1997. But when state revenues declined, the Schultz Center funding was cut.

Photo: Schultz Center president Deborah Gianoulis.

“The recession happened,” said Deborah Gianoulis, president of the Schultz Center. “That [state budget] line-item was never restored.”

And  Duval schools decided to provide their own staff development.

So the Schultz Center had to change. The non-profit is expanding beyond Northeast Florida to offer training to teachers statewide, both in person and online. And they’re building an incubator for education entrepreneurs.

They’re also helping teachers adjust to big changes in the classroom.

Common Core, or — a variation of it like Florida is using — is a roadmap of what students should know at the end each grade. But the standards have also changed the way teachers plan and present their lessons.

Common Core asks students to collaborate — to figure out the lesson’s goal on their own. Gianoulis said teachers also need to work together to understand what the standards mean and what’s expected – but that can be hard.

“Teachers are natural collaborators,” she said. “And I, as a former journalist, years ago did documentaries in schools. And I was told once by a principal something that really stuck out in my mind. She said ‘You know, teachers are islands. They’re alone in their classrooms.’

“And yet if we look at what’s happening in the countries in the world that are surpassing us in student achievement, in many case their students spend less time in student instruction than ours do. But their teachers spend so much more time working collaboratively together.”

One way to do that is getting rid of the traditional model of professional development.
Read more... 

Source: StateImpact Florida

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Study: Prospective Students See Online Education As Career Booster

"A new report revealed prospective students prefer blended programs, schools with nearby campuses, and see online programs as career booster. The growth of online education, in which enrollment increases at 1 percent annually, is fueled by factors like flexibility and the credentials that help students earn more." continues iSchoolGuide.

Young Cambodian Woman Users her Laptop 
Photo: iSchoolGuide

The Aslanian Market Research and The Learning House, Inc. have released a new report on online learning, which revealed that students find such as a pathway for boosting their career prospects. It further showed that college students prefer blended programs and find schools with nearby campuses, as well.

The fourth annual survey also found that fewer students are attending college in recent years, which it attributed to the still-recovering economy and the declining unemployment rate. Polymnia Hadjipanayiotou of Education News reported that 18.6 million students are currently enrolled in college, a nearly 2 percent drop from last year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research center. More than one third of them, or about 5.5 million, is enrolled in a part- or full-time online program.

The report (PDF)
Online education enrollment is rising steadily at 1 percent every year. The report showed that online courses attract more attention from prospective students mostly because of flexibility and the credentials that help them earn more. In addition, online higher education competition has become tougher than ever as over 421 institutions offered an online program for the first time between 2012 and 2013, Education News reported.

"Roughly 75% of online students seek further education to change careers, get a job, earn a promotion or keep up to date with their skills," the report noted. "The third most appealing marketing message among the group sampled was 'a high job placement rate.'"

Blended programs are courses that mix on-campus learning with online instruction. Respondents seemed to have viewed such programs as an attractive learning model since five in 10 said they were willing to enroll in a hybrid or low-residency course if their preferred program was not offered 100 percent online.
Read more... 

Source: iSchoolGuide

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