Tag: Eric Wearne

By Eric Wearne Events move quickly in the world of online learning.  As an example of how fast: online learning platform Coursera was founded in 2012.  Georgia Tech announced a partnership with Coursera this week. But Georgia Tech is not alone in this; Coursera is working with “elite” partners in the U.S. and other countries, to host MOOCs within each partner’s most highly regarded areas of expertise. According to Inside Higher Education, Coursera is creating a new market niche: “While Udacity has elected to team up with individual professors and edX has not announced any partners beyond M.I.T. and Harvard University, Coursera has attracted partners based on selling itself as a ‘humble hosting platform’ upon which top-tier traditional universities,… View Article
By Eric Wearne Massively Open Online Courses (“MOOCs”) are a growing trend in higher education.  According to Educause’s “7 Things you Should Know About MOOCs,” they are simply “a model for delivering learning content online to virtually any person—with no limit on attendance—who wants to take the course.” Sometimes these courses are attached to colleges and offer credit, but often they are free to anyone who wants to “attend” and learn the content, usually at the student’s own pace.  To give just one example, Georgia Tech runs a MOOC focused on instructional technology, which currently includes 31 weeks of content, is free, and can be accessed whenever learners have the time. Multiple recent projects have explored higher education’s… View Article
By Eric Wearne Each year the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announce results for tests that make up the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  This week, results of 2009 school year science tests in grades four, eight, and 12 were announced in a report titled “Science in Action.”  This announcement was different because for the first time results include assessments of interactive computer tasks (ICTs). The results include both hands-on and interactive computer tasks.  Students have been doing hands-on activities on NAEP science tests since the 1990s. A video describing the hands-on tasks is here.  In these tasks, students receive a kit with materials and lab equipment, and,… View Article

Can Online Learning and Common Core Co-Exist?

By Eric Wearne Recently I spoke at Georgia State University’s NET-Q Summer Institute, which focused on several aspects of the Common Core State Standards.  During the various breakout sessions, my co-panelists and I discussed several topics around the creation of the Common Core, including its practical impact on stakeholders, the use of assessments, and other issues. One aspect that gets probably too little coverage is the possible effect of the Common Core on technology and online learning. The two concepts are different in kind: online learning is an approach or tactic, while the Common Core is a set of content standards.  Yet in some ways, online learning and the Common Core both attempt to address similar issues: both… View Article
By Eric Wearne A recent New York Times article called into question practices resulting from tuition tax credit programs around the country, including in Georgia.  That article spends a lot of column space discussing creationism and football when the discussion should really come down to two issues: Are needy students benefitting from the program, and is the program being administered appropriately? The clearly accessible (though self-reported) data available online show the answer to both questions, at least for some of Georgia’s leading Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs) – including the state’s largest – is yes. The Arête Scholars Fund, for example, focuses explicitly on students with financial needs. In 2010-11 (the most recently reported data), Arête provided scholarships averaging $4,577.… View Article

Half a Cheer for Tablets in the Classroom

By Eric Wearne The high school I attended, decades ago, was considered cutting edge technologically.  The internet had just been born, and my school (a new one), was going to have six desktop computers in every classroom.  I do not know if the effects of this policy were ever measured, but I can say anecdotally that students at my school logged a lot of time playing Oregon Trail and Hot Dog Stand.  (While neither of those games were as addictive as, say, Facebook, both at least had some educational value). It’s easy to criticize plans for computer use from a time when we had no idea what they might be useful for in the classroom.  Having said that, we seem… View Article

Education Reform for the Digital Era

By Eric Wearne While many books, websites, and events exist to catalog new concepts in online education, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Education Reform for the Digital Era offers both a discussion and some practical solutions.  First, the editors, Checker Finn and Daniela Fairchild, describe three barriers to change which currently hinder online learning: Interest groups that try to either “capture the potential of technology to advance their own interests or to shackle it in ways that keep it from harming those interests”; The governance and financing structure of the current public school system; and, Issues of organizational capacity within the current public school system. The authors of the various chapters outline ways to address all three issues. First, regarding… View Article
By Eric Wearne Recently Governor Nathan Deal announced a task force to “recommend ways to improve student achievement through the creation of robust digital learning environments, which may include the transition to digital textbooks and the effective use of wireless mobile devices.” In his remarks, the Governor stated that, “Students need to develop technical literacy in order to attain 21st century skills and become competitive in the global marketplace, and our state will invest in that education. We must increase the quality and quantity of our digital learning opportunities to ensure that our students are college or career ready.” Leaving aside the fact that a great many of the students in school today probably already have better “technical literacy” than… View Article
By Eric Wearne In Teacher in America, Jacques Barzun writes that, “In theory, the printed book should have technologically annihilated the teacher, for the original ‘lecture’ was a reading from a costly manuscript to students who could not afford it.” Clearly, that has not been the case. Barzun was talking about new educational technologies (decades ago), and while teachers are not likely to be “annihilated” by new technology in the near future, schooling will likely look very different, and very soon. In his 2011 book Getting Smart, venture capitalist and a former school superintendent Tom Vander Ark makes a case for changing our views of schooling to keep pace with new technologies. He argues for a blend of… View Article

Another View of Georgia Charter Schools Report

By Kelly McCutchen, Mark Peevy, Dr. Ben Scafidi and Dr. Eric Wearne Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court closed the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and gave local school boards “exclusive” control over public education in Georgia. Now legislators are debating whether the state should be able to authorize start-up charter schools and whether the state should have any role in education other than writing checks to school boards. Georgia parents clearly want start-up charter schools: Last year more than 5,000 students were on waiting lists to attend the state’s few start-up charter schools. This may be why an overwhelming majority of the Legislature wants to change the state Constitution to make these start-up charter schools a viable option for Georgia… View Article

The Foundation always tells the truth.

Governor Roy Barnes more quotes