It was late 1997. A group of six teachers and four support personnel had spent five months learning about teaching online from any source we could find.
We were building courses in Lotus Learning Space, and preparing to register kids for this new thing called Florida High School. There had been tears, there had been elation, and there had been a lot of supposition about what teaching online meant.
We nervously sat around a small round conference table waiting for the phone to ring after we opened registration for the first time ever. We kept saying to each other, “If we build it, they will come,” but would students really want to try this? The “Web School” pilot in Orange County in the 1996-97 school year drew some students, so we had hope.
Finally, after an excruciating wait, the phone rang. We had our first student! Continue reading
I often take it for granted that we have arrived in the digital age. I think there may have been two years in the early 1990s when I didn’t have computers in my classroom for student use – and once we had computers, use them we did! And then this cool thing called the “Internet” came to our schools. Our capabilities to connect students to learning resources and the real world grew exponentially.
We are so fortunate in Florida to continue to have fabulous support for digital learning, from virtual schools to classroom support. Yet, there are still places in Florida, as well as the rest of the country, where going digital is a struggle for teachers and students.
I see many requests from school districts looking to find the magic pill to make learning tailored to the student. Prescription of learning tends to be a common first step that schools are willing to make into the world of personalized learning environments. In prescriptive learning, a path through the learning content is prescribed for each learner based on a criterion-reference pre-test, and sometimes performance on a post-test. This is a common answer to remediating students who need to make up credits, exempting items they know and remediating on items where mastery has not been gained. Continue reading
I was in a fender-bender last week. A young driver with obviously little experience put his car in reverse without thinking and backed up right into my car – doing a small amount of damage. He pulled over, got out, and apologized. He was shaken, and I calmed him down using my best teacher tactics. We exchanged information and we were on our way.
Well, now he is being dishonest and telling everyone I hit him. Of course that is to be expected – he was in another accident just two weeks earlier, and mentioned his mother would be very upset (not exactly his words).
My sister is conducting her own personal rally against homework. I don’t blame her one bit. Most of my working-parent friends pick up their children after 5:30 p.m. By the time they get home and eat dinner, they may have one-and-a-half hours of quality time left with their child. Then the homework monster rears its head, which often consists of the parent helping to clear up incorrect concepts. My niece did her share of complaining about homework too. I thought the United States was making headway in educational practices, but from her comments, it seems that rote practice is normal. Are we still in 1900? Continue reading
There is a reason that I am at Florida Virtual School (FLVS) – my Aunt made me take a leap of faith. In 1997, a friend interviewed for Florida High School (early name for FLVS). When she came back from the interview, she said, “You need to go interview – this is made for you.” So, I went to meet with Julie Young and heard about the plans for this radical new thing called a virtual school.
After being offered a position, I went home and agonized all night. I had a nice teaching job where I knew what was going to happen tomorrow, and I had a pretty good idea what was going to happen next year and the following. This was radical – no one in the country was trying to create a public virtual school. It could fail before it even started. Continue reading
Google Chromebook hit the market heavily this year. With the $250 price tag and fast startup, this is a very intriguing product for schools, and families are sure to have equipped students with this computer over the holidays.
The Chromebook is used primarily while connected to the Internet since it runs applications through the browser. According to CNET, this is a great computer for users who are comfortable with apps and documents living in the cloud, such as Google Docs. While the Chromebook can be used offline, functionality is greatly diminished. Continue reading
Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been around the higher-ed space for years in various forms, but this year, MOOC is the big buzzword. Many major universities are jumping on the MOOC bandwagon, and are seeing people from across the globe flock to their open courses. As a recent NY Times article stated, “The shimmery hope is that free courses can bring the best education in the world to the most remote corners of the planet… (Pappano)”
For those of you caught a little off-guard by this concept, a MOOC is an online course that is a mashup of education and social networking. Taught by seasoned professors from prestigious universities, MOOCs offer online course content, social support of learning by peers, homework, and even exams, all for free. You don’t even have to enroll in the university! The catch? There is no course credit at the end of the road.
Why would universities go down this road? Continue reading