With the recent advent of online assessments, the capabilities of the school network have come to the forefront in many school districts across the nation (Cavanaugh, 2014). In November 2014, President Obama addressed school bandwidth issues during the inaugural superintendent summit on digital learning and future readiness. At the summit, President Obama stated, “Right now, fewer than 40 percent of public schools have high-speed Internet in their classrooms; less than half. It means that in most American schools, teachers cannot use the cutting-edge software and programs that are available today. They literally don’t have the bandwidth” (The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 2014). In 2014, President Obama unveiled the ConnectED Initiative (ConnectED). At the unveiling, President Obama stated that many schools have the same bandwidth as an average American home but with many more users.
Compared with conventional courses that charge tuition, issue college credit, and have enrollments of 20 to 30 students, MOOCs are free and do not issue credits to participants (Pappano, 2012). Since anyone with an Internet connection can register, enrollments can be enormous, occasionally numbering into the thousands (Rodriguez, 2012). Due to the large number of students, faculty cannot respond to each student individually. Students work collaboratively in study groups organized into online forums. The primary instructional medium is the video lecture. Assignments, homework, tests, and final exams may also be included.
Rodriguez (2012) studied an artificial intelligence (AI) MOOC given at the University of Stanford that had an enrollment of 160,000 students. The MOOC was taught by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig, two leading experts on AI (Rodriguez 2012). The MOOC was an experiment by the Stanford University computer science department to increase technology and innovation education worldwide. Norvig and Thrun issued a certificate of accomplishment to students who completed the course (Rodriguez, 2012). The Stanford University computer science department caused a controversy in higher education with their participation in a MOOC that drew an unexpectedly large number of students taught by two of the world’s leading experts on AI (Conole, 2013). Conole (2013) noted that the AI MOOC controversy caused higher education to investigate new methods of developing online courses that would not only make more effective use of technology but also would attract a more diverse student body due to technology. Jenkins (2009) cautioned that students participating in MOOCs needed to possess adequate technology and literacy skills to find and use information effectively as is often present in connectivist learning theory.
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Blended learning enables important shifts in teaching and learning as schools move to a more student-centered, personalized approach. This session will address the why,what, where and how of the shifts in curriculum and instruction and provides school leaders with an understanding of new opportunities for personalization and for addressing learning differences; powerful applications of project-based, game-based and universal design for learning with technology; options for and affordances of digital curriculum and connected learning; and important new ways to think about the use of student learning time.
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Creating a Culture for Digital Learning
- Identify a time where you felt empowered as a member of a team moving toward a common goal.
- Create a list of characteristics of the team culture that supported this environment.
- Once you have your list of characteristics, ask yourself or your team members the following questions:
- Are these characteristics present in your school culture?
- Do you feel your teachers would respond differently?
- How do you know trust is evident in your building?
- How do you build trust?
ACTIVITY: Build your own definition of school culture.