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OpenSesame -- another online-based marketplace for learning appears on the scene

From E-Learning Queen

“Our goal is to create a community where both buyers and sellers thrive and elearning is accessible, easy to implement and rewarding for everyone.”

Flash interactions the easy way — from theelearningcoach.com

Do you ever wish you had the time, budget or staff to add more interactive learning activities to your online courses? I recently came across a company that fills this gap with engaging Flash Interactions, eLearning Templates, Articulate Skins and Flash Games that can be imported into most rapid development authoring systems. The company is the eLearning Brothers—otherwise known as Andrew and Shawn Scivally.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announces $100 million Innovation Fund to invest in education initiatives globally — from businesswire.com
HMH Innovation Fund will help develop and bring to market groundbreaking new products for delivering individualized learning solutions and classroom technologies; company also investing an additional $300 million in broader technology initiatives over the next three years

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Global education leader Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today announced the formal creation of a $100 million fund to support innovative ideas for new products to promote and enhance student achievement, individualized learning and effective technology integration in the classroom. The HMH Innovation Fund will be aimed at supporting emerging education initiatives and programs, as well as accelerating new technology development with the goal of bringing to market and spurring adoption of innovative solutions that can play a critical role in transforming education.

Digital Learning Council press release — from EdReformer.com

Tallahassee, Florida and Washington, D.C. August 18, 2010 – Jeb Bush, governor of Florida 1999 – 2007, and Bob Wise, governor of West Virginia 2001 – 2005, today launched the Digital Learning Council to identify policies that will integrate current and future technological innovations into public education. The Digital Learning Council unites a diverse group of more than 50 leaders from education, government, philanthropy, business, technology, and think tanks to develop the roadmap of reform for local, state and federal lawmakers and policymakers.

“Technology has the power to customize education for every student in America,” said Jeb Bush, co-chair of the Digital Learning Council. “Providing a customized, personalized education for students was a dream just a decade ago. Technology can turn that dream into reality today. The Digital Learning Council will develop the roadmap to achieve that ultimate goal.”

Online learning continues to expand — by M. Horn

For those naysayers who have been suspect of whether online learning would continue to grow in the highly regulated K-12 sector as disruptive innovations do, more evidence emerged recently to suggest that it’s not just us and the theory saying that it will do that, but it is in fact doing just that.

According to a report titled Speak Up 2009 released by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow, a whopping 27 percent of high school students took at least one online course in 2009—nearly double the 14 percent who took at least one online course in 2008.

Education as we know it is finished — from forbes.com by Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn (emphasis below from DSC)
Classrooms are giving way to online learning–forever.

School budgets are continuing to tighten, as the drop in state and local revenues has not abated and there likely will not be another $100 billion in federal stimulus funds coming any time soon. Even if the economy rebounds, the situation for public education will remain bleak. With baby boomers set to retire en masse, state and local governments, which provide the majority of school funds, will face mounting retiree health care and nonpension benefit obligations for which they haven’t made proper allowances. And local districts haven’t yet felt the full pain of the housing crisis in reducing revenue from property taxes. In other words, we have only seen the beginning of the red ink.

But others are seeing the hardship of the moment as an opportunity to transform what they do with the implementation of online learning. Pressured by not only widespread cuts but also increasing demands for accountability, these innovative leaders recognize that online learning is a key reform for doing more with less.

For example, the people who run many schools realize that they can save considerably by cutting back on traditional classroom versions of non-core courses–advanced placement, foreign language, economics and so forth–and instead offer them online, thereby aggregating demand across many school districts. Likewise they can cut back on the number of periods during which they offer certain classroom courses and still affordably meet student demand by offering those courses online.

The adoption of online learning is much more than just a cost-saving move for school districts. It has the potential to transform schooling more broadly by allowing students access to a wide range of high-quality offerings and teachers, regardless of where they live. Some students whose classroom courses have been replaced with online versions will be thrilled to find out that they now have access to not just one provider’s online courses but a whole marketplace of high-quality options, in a naturally technology-rich environment quite compatible for them.

Online learning also allows students to study unburdened by the usual constraints of time, proceeding at a pace that works best for them. The current system forces all students to learn the same material within the same time frame. That stalls the progress of advanced students while leaving others behind. This is one of the reasons online learning has been shown to produce better results overall than traditional face-to-face instruction.

From DSC:
Consistent readers of this blog and my former website will know that I’ve been saying we are in a game-changing environment for some time now — K-12 and higher education will never be going back to “business as usual.”

In Designing e-Learning Motivation Makes all the Difference — from Allen Interactions

What was deeply personal to one group was irrelevant and pointless to another.

This is exactly the problem we face so often as designers of e-learning.  Our subject matter experts or project owners live and breathe the content we are to teach. And they expect that the same values that have given significance to the content for them over many years can be directly transferred to the learners.  Unfortunately, that’s impossible.  To get learners engaged in understanding new content and performing new skills, we as designers need to tie the content to some motivation existing in the learner, or to manufacture an urgency (using game design, networking, or simulation aspects) that the learners buy into.  This is important in all learning, but particularly so in e-learning where learners are, for the most part, working entirely on their own.

So equal to the task of analyzing content and designing instruction is the challenge of understanding our learners and designing interactivity that will provide personal motivation.

Here are some ideas for designing for motivation:

  • Ensure learners are aware of meaningful consequences
  • Develop a sense of risk
  • Ensure the learner benefits from adaptive content and branching
  • Draw the learner in by expert storytelling and creation of suspense
  • Appreciate the aesthetic appeal of graphics and media
  • Engage in meta-thinking with questions whose importance is elevated through multiple-step tasks and delayed judgment

Rags to Riches — from ilearntechnology.com

What it is: Rags to Riches takes Lemonade Tycoon to a whole new level with simulated business.  In Rags to Riches, students are working to make their band a success.  Students play the part of a new band going on tour with a few new songs.  As they play the Rags to Riches game simulation, students must make decisions about what the band should do.  They have to decide which cities are best for them to play in, what venues to play, how much money to spend on publicity and how much to charge for tickets.  Students start out with $100 and must make wise decisions to continue in the simulation.  When they run out of money, the game ends and they must start again.

How to integrate Rags to Riches into the classroom: If you teach students like mine, breaking out Lemonade Tycoon in the classroom is met by cheers from some and with eye rolls by others who are “way too cool” for a lemonade stand.  For those students, Rags to Riches is in order…

Screencasts and Education by Paul McGovern

Screencasts to support learning

I believe there are a number of reasons why screencasts are extremely effective as educational tools and I have outlined these below:

1. Time-flexible learning

2. Support Web 2.0 expectations of learners

3. Enhancement of the learning process

4. Enhancement of learning engagement

Let’s take a look at these one by one….

Learning in the 21st Century: 2010 Trends Update — from Project Tomorrow

Key trends highlighted in the report include:

  • The number of high school students who are taking online classes for school credit has almost doubled since Speak Up 2008.
  • While the number of teachers who have taught online classes has tripled since Speak Up 2008, we still have more work to do to help teachers learn how to effectively leverage online learning to drive student achievement and increase their own productivity.
  • Even as aspiring teachers are gaining experience with online classes and online professional learning communities as part of their teacher preparation programs, only 4 percent report that they are learning how to teach online classes in their instructional methods courses.
  • Administrators are beginning to shift their focus on online learning from professional development for teachers to online classes for students.
  • Thirty-three percent of parents report they have taken an online class for their own professional needs or personal interests. Parents’ personal experiences with online learning are affecting how their children view the benefits of online learning as well.

See also:
Report: Online Learning Nearly Doubles Among High School Students — The Journal by David Nagel

Oregon and Online Learning: “Governor’s Reset Cabinet” Final Report — from Educational Technology and Change Journal

The following excerpt is from page 45 of “Final Report: Governor’s Reset Cabinet” (Oregon, June 2010). The focus of this section is “virtual education”:

Virtual Education

Oregon should create and fully support a statewide public virtual learning system. The use of online or virtual learning has come of age in recent years. Today’s technology makes it possible to provide educational opportunities to remote areas of the country. Florida, for instance, has over ten years of experience with providing a statewide virtual system. In that state’s experience, the highest demand areas are in credit recovery and dual credit classes, where students earn both high school graduation and college credit. The average student is not enrolled full-time in a virtual program, but takes one or two online classes per semester.

A 2008 survey by the Association of Educational Service Agencies indicated that the greatest need for access to virtual instruction is in the areas of secondary math and science. Small and rural districts find it especially difficult to hire all of the highly qualified teachers necessary for these academic areas. The survey also showed a strong demand for online courses that provide college credits that are transferable to all state institutions. Oregon could provide more dual credit classes aligned with the Oregon Transfer Module and the Associates of Arts Oregon Transfer, as well as Career Technical Education classes through community colleges.

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