Friday, November 13, 2009

Distance Learning Brainstorming Meeting

After attending an area meeting to discuss and brainstorm ways to connect various school districts in order to better serve the students, the following questions have been generated for additional discussion. In order to maintain clarity, please note the number of the question you are referencing in your comment. If you are responding to another comment directly, please note that as well. This will simply help our on-going conversation to expand. If there is a great swell of conversation on a particular question, we can add a separate posting to handle that one in more depth.

Your contributions here are important and add to the brainstorming and idea generation that occurred in the face to face conversation that occurred. It is important to note that this is a public and freely accessible site and that all ideas and suggestions are theoretically based and hypothetical at this point. If you find there is a question you would like asked and has not been addressed/listed below, please include it in your comment and assign a number for reference.

Questions that surfaced:

1) How do we maximize our resources to teach all of our students?
2) How can we structure technology to meet the needs of our students?
3) What structures do we need to break down to make this work?
4) What structures do we need to maintain to make this work?
5) What structures do we need to create to make this work?
6) What are some of the concerns that exist in moving this direction?
7) What solutions and possibilities exist to manage the concerns?
8) How can we make connections to 21st Century Skills?
9) How can we make connections to Iowa Core Curriculum?
10) Does Project-Based learning lend to this opportunity?
11) What happens with student engagement on distance learning?
12) Can we emphasize/enhance differentiation through technology?
13) How do we maintain a personal connect with students?
14) How does this change how we view leadership roles?
15) What tools need to be accessed (Twitter, Facebook, Wikis, Blogs, etc.)?
16) How does this affect a need for brick and mortar buildings (physical changes)?
17) What other skills are needed to access the technology necessary to distance share?
18) How is the curriculum developed?
19) What is the goal of the curriculum?
20) How are Gifted and Talented and/or Special Needs students impacted?
21) In what ways can the technology be supported outside of school?
22) In what ways can the technology be supported outside of the school day?
23) Is saving money a major goal and is it possible and/or probable?
24) How will the state view shared on-line learning in terms of accreditation?
25) Which curricular areas are most applicable (vocational, electives, core)?
26) What kind of training can be made available for teachers, leaders, and students?
27) Is commonality a key aspect of this change?
28) What opportunities are available from AEA and ICCC (technology/leadership)?
29) How are concepts of oral communication, body language, etc. supported when learning is primarily supported through digital print?
30) How is a framework to provide these outcomes established?
31) What are the next steps that need to be established?
32) Is seat time still an issue with the state in this learning atmosphere?
33) How will differences in contracts (pay scales, expectations, duties, etc.) be affected by sharing among districts?
34) How do we ensure scheduling effectiveness or reduce scheduling conflicts?

In review, this is kind of an overwhelming and daunting list. Some of these questions seem to be more concise, and others lend to drifting outward in conversations about additional thoughts. Best of luck as you walk through the process and share ideas with the goal of providing the best educational opportunities for the students we collectively serve.

Reactions:

13 comments:

Marshall said...

My apologies for the delay in getting this posted. Hopefully those of you interested in the reading and the comments have stayed the course and are still willing to contribute.

In struggling with getting this posted from my school, another questions that surfaced for me was how to meet the technology demands that distance learning may create when we still are struggling to figure out filters for basic access for teacher and student use.

Kastendieck said...

I would like to start with the following three discussion questions. Why? They address structure and a good structural base, one that stands solid when built on and even changed ,is important to any educational endeavor.
3) What structures do we need to break down to make this work?
4) What structures do we need to maintain to make this work?

5) What structures do we need to create to make this work?

One size fits all schedules, not only for students but also for staff. What a wonderful opportunity for students to work around personal schedules (not a morning person etc.) and also work schedules (must work due to the financial needs of the family) and even internship work opportunities (what an awesome opportunity). What a wonderful opportunity for staff to work out of home if needed (new baby in the house), work long distance (educator that is out of district and the drive is impaired by weather , yes Iowa Winter) , or to work the traditional hours and in the traditional physical building ( this should not be done away with , some students and staff need this structure!)
One size fits all physical structures. Do we need a traditional structure that houses all activities all the time? This is a good question to note further. Does the school building provide a focal point for the community or should the community be the focal point for education. In the early 1900’s one room school houses were very effective. They were based on need by population and made the transportation of students very effective. This idea could be used by making the traditional physical structure the hub of the educational wheel, or the community the hub with the tech base and the traditional physical school building just a spoke. Community culture and climate would indicate what physical structure should be adopted.
One size fits all students. People are different and need to be so to contribute to our society. Students are different and need to have their potentials realized. A special needs students have needs that are different but, so much the same as, a talented and gifted student. They both need to maximize their potential. If students are able to receive instruction via technological services blocking students into pre-cut curriculums and assessments has to be avoided. Building a new educational structure on a foundation that is not stable is counterproductive. We are all lifelong learners regardless of age this new structure should be able to handle all potential learners.
One size fits all educational leadership. School Boards, Superintendents, principals, certified teachers, uncertified staff. Is this the most effective way to work and how will distance learning change this when school districts are working together, who is the boss?
Well this is a beginning to the discussion. This discussion is like a blogging buffet line, one needs to pick discussion questions carefully since you cannot possibly pick everything at once , at least I can’t..

Kastendieck said...

6. What are some of the concerns that exist in moving in this direction?
Long list but tried to fit everything into a-z.
Makes the entire idea seem like too much work.
I think grouping and simplifying if possible so it is palatable to a larger public is key.
a. Staff cuts (More students can be served by fewer staff due to the fact that one to one is not mandatory. How many students can a teacher instruct is the question. Past history shows on-line teachers handle more students not less. Staff cuts might also include janitorial, lunch room, etc.)
b. Lack of 121 f2f interactions with students and staff. (Even on a rotating basis you can not see a student often. Is on-line interaction enough?)
c. Implosion of school districts. (Students not attending the physical building causes what? Perhaps less loyalty to the district to the community? Will students say why worry about my school district when I can learn on line from a New York school. )
d. Lack of school and community identity. (See above in regard to the implosion. Will there be a need for school mascots, school colors? If you can learn world wide will your learning group determine a loyalty?)
e. Student ratios to teacher increased. ( Similar to staff cuts from (a.) but deals with certified staff only)
f. Student cheating. (How to monitor when you never meet the student)
g. lack of quality in classes. (Paperless driven reports only work with one end of the learning spectrum and student)
h. Overhaul of curriculum. ( I forsee rewriting lots curriculum in a new format state designed.)
i. Lack of teaching resources. (New programs, new hardware, and monies to go towards purchase? With declining enrollment and budgets tight now how do we start this idea?)
j. Leaving traditional students behind.(There are students who need a physical space, physical presence, and physical hands on work, will this address their needs?)
k. Leaving quality traditional teachers behind or unemployed. (Some traditional teachers motivate and teach and reach students like no other, will they be forced out eventually?)
l. Budget concerns. (Similar to (i) but also taking in the idea that all the schools budget formulas will have to be reworked )
m. Technology concerns. (What technology is appropriate and beneficial and who decides. What hardware is needed and works the best? How to maintain quality technology?)

Kastendieck said...

m. Technology concerns. (What technology is appropriate and beneficial and who decides. What hardware is needed and works the best? How to maintain quality technology?)
o. NCLB concerns. (Will NCLB requirements be met when distance learning is just starting or will it throw the school into a watch group while the school works out the kinks in the program?)
p. Evaluation of student progress concerns. (Evaluation on-line, cheating a concern, and also everything literature based, what to do with hands on learner? )
q. Evaluation of teacher concerns. (Additional standards for teachers might have to be added due to the fact that on-line classes will require different skills )
r. Evaluation of administrative concerns. (How to evaluate whether an administrator is leading the program, facilitating the teacher, and keeping compliant with state standards)
s. Evaluation of program concerns. (how will the program be evaluated and improved or changed.)
t. Keeping updated with current programs and technology. (How will updated programs be reviewed and purchased and who will do it?)
u. Parent and community buy in. (Will a parent want their child working from home? Will the community find not sending students to a physical building okay?)
v. State buy in. (Will the state provide funding, change of curriculum requirements, encourage?)
w. Administrative leadership questions (who is in charge?) (A staff member could be teaching classes for three school districts at one time. Who evaluates, who mentors, who disciplines if needed?)
x. Physical facility concerns.( Does the school building need to be rearranged for more labs, more wiring, more public access?)
y. Age appropriate programs and services. (What should of middle school be able to take, what should a Junior or Senior take on –line, and who decides.
z. Safety (on-line predators, think it would be easy to get into a class and then communicate through fictitious name)

Marshall said...

a-z...yes.

Kastendieck said...

I think you can tell that I think distance learning is a major issue to be addressed in regard to rural public education. It is not so much should a school district but instead how to get it going in the most effective way as possible. I really feel that it should be started immediately (as in the next school year). There is time to get topics discussed and organized. Schools cannot wait for this to mulled over, sorted, rearranged, and then wait for everyone to get on board. Go to the schools that have a program and find out what is working or not working. Talk to professionals that work with distance learning everyday. Don't reinvent the wheel at first, start a program with staff and students that are interested and dedicated and learn along the way. You can't make a masterpiece with the first brush stroke. Time slips by fast and technology based issues fly by even faster.
So...which items did this address.... i believe the entire subject but also to get an A I must add numbers (31 and 34).

Marshall said...

Is doing it right a make or break situation? Will a sub-par "rollout" mean a closed door for the future? If so, then Tina's post is off, if there is an opportunity to improve, enhance, and adjust, then what is the benefit of waiting?

Kastendieck said...

Every new program or educational endevor has a learning curve to it. Doing it right the first time is almost un heard of. Getting good people who are willing to be invested in the process is the most important. If the processs starts and does not become what is imagined good people can change it or even stop it. Substandard may be just part of the process. Distance education is a time sensative issue that is already behind if it has not been started. A delay is the process could be the end of the program possibilities. What are we waiting for? Someone to put it on a plate for us? This blog is a buffet of conversation, we have good people ready to start the conversation, let's get the conversation on the plate and see what is worth eating....before the converstation (food) gets cold!

Marshall said...

Points well taken, Tina. My perspective on this one is that it's going, but we need to question where the downfalls are and not just do something to do something. To use your food analogy again, hunger is the best seasoning. Personally I prefer preparing a complete and thought out meal @ 7:00 instead of chips and dip because of my hunger at 5:00. I guess I'm not wanting to spoil my apetite with "something" now when a good meal could be on the way.

Kastendieck said...

questioning is always appropriate and should be the start of any program but also continue during the process, during the initial startup, and continue to be an evaluation tool.
I believe the questioning to gain perspective has been started, distance education has been addressed by colleges and school districts for a few years already. I think instead this post is addressing how distance education should be handled in a current perticular school system and not so much the general idea of distance education...but I could have misinterpetted the posting. So to use the anolog of food again, sometimes it is good to run for chips and dip when you are busy working on a project, it gives you the energy you need to tackle the initial job and then you can take a breather when time allows reflect on what is good to eat and go for that course next. Let's get going with some high calorie fast food and get distance education started!!

Kastendieck said...

dangerouslyirrelevent.org goes into this blog in regard to individual and personal education that is being used and will continue to grow in the years. He references "Disruptive Innovation" as written by Christensen as why distance learning is important and growing more important every day, hour, and second. The author indicates that it will be the trend by 2012 and taking over education after that. I agree but will research it further by reading the book. At this time what the book indicates makes all the sense in the world as and educator and student and future (I hope administrator). Time is valuable and now is the time to jump with quality people jumping with you. Let's think ahead and big and go for it! It is the right time, right place, and the right people!!!!

Kastendieck said...

Jumping right in is still what I think should happen...but sometimes the water is cold and reality is a shock, the water can also be a lot deeper then you think, or the too shallow and you hit a rock. I am seeing the reality of distance learning and it still does not frighten me but, yes warns me to be more coutous. Tech problems are my main concern, how to teach with tech problems. You have 5 kids in the room with you, and 3 in another building, and 10 in another and the tech assoc. does not show up (sick or late) amd the computer system won't log on. Now you are the administrator do you hire a sub (assoc. sub I hope to babysit) or send them to study hall (if it is during the reg. school day) and what kind of lesson plan will fit half the class half the time. This is only the tip of the too deep part. Now to the too shallow part. You jump in and the instructor stinks and the curriculum is not organized for the students who are involved. When you are working with this the staff and or superintendent and or school board decide they are not fans of what is going on and then monies (by state) are pulled. Hiting a rock and standing in 3 feet of water... So as you can see I am a realist as well as a dreamer. I hate to make a decision out of fear of what might happen I would rather envision the best and work with the problems. Well now it is your turn.

Marshall said...

Tina, you clearly have the vision to see the potential and several of the downfalls. Like most of us, the dreamer motivates us and the realist looks for obstacles to overcome. The more obstacles that can be overcome before jumping in (measuring the depth, checking temp, looking at current, etc.) the safer the jump. The whole issue of breaking the proverbial neck or drowning may be another anology that indicates there really is only one chance if it gets screwed up.

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