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Tag: online and blended learning

Carpe Diem: Integrating Competency-Based and Blended Learning:

September 11, 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 11.48.54 AMAmerican Radio Works has released a great piece on digital learning One Child at a Time: Custom Learning in the Digital Age including case studies of the Carpe Diem school in Indianapolis and Mooresville Public Schools in North Carolina.  For schools trying to think about how to integrate digital learning into a competency-based framework the chapter  on Carpe Diem will give you lots of ideas. My guess is it could make a pretty good discussion tool.

The Carpe Diem case study raises lots of  design issues:

  • Students operating at a variety of levels: ” Some students are way ahead. One girl, a seventh-grader, started the year testing at a ninth-grade level in math. She ended the year at an 11th-grade level. The same student came in at a second-grade level in science. By the end of the year, she was testing at a sixth-grade level.
  • Mix of Traditional Classrooms and Online Learning: “When you ask students what grade they’re in, some of them will look at you funny. One student said: “Do you mean upstairs or downstairs?” Upstairs is the learning center where students work at their own pace on computers. There they don’t really think of themselves as being in a particular grade. Downstairs is different. That’s where students go for their classes, which are called workshops. There they are grouped together by the grade they would be in at a conventional school.”
  • Student Agency: “Kristina, who is shy and soft-spoken and wears a huge flower in her hair, says the difference between Carpe Diem and the school she attended last year is this: she feels in control at Carpe Diem. Every day she knows exactly how she’s doing; it says so right on her computer screen. At her previous school she would take tests and hand in assignments and sometimes wait weeks to get grades back. By the time she knew she was failing, it felt like it was too late to do anything about it.”

FYI — If you are really interested in learning more about digital learning so you can better integrate it into your competency-based school, check out MOOC-Ed. They are offering a course Digital Learning Transition to help you understand the potential of digital learning in K-12 schools, assess progress and set future goals for your school or district, and plan to achieve those goals. (They also have a course on Mathematic Learning Trajectories that looks really interesting!)

Meet-Up at iNACOL Symposium

June 5, 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 5.10.25 PMiNACOL is putting the final touches on the iNACOL’s Symposium competency education strand of workshops and sessions.  An incredible group of practitioners (some emphasizing online/blended learning and others not) are going to be leading sessions. In addition to the formal sessions there will be a CompetencyWorks lounge area near the exhibitor hall that you can use for informal discussions and meet-ups.  In fact, we’ll be meeting there Sunday evening during the opening reception just so we can introduce ourselves (thanks to Tom Willis Cornerstone Charter Schools who called me and said we needed this to happen.) The iNACOL Symposium is a big, exciting meeting,  so knowing each other’s faces early on will make a huge difference.

Although we know things always change, here is how the competency education strand looks now:

Sunday Pre-Conference

Design Choices for Competency Education will be for experienced innovators and newbies alike. We’ll walk through all the different choices districts and schools make, sharing what worked, what you learned, and what you might do differently.

Session 1

Overview of Competency Education – What is it, what are the models, and who is doing it? – Susan Patrick, iNACOL and Chris Sturgis, MetisNet

Session 2

The Building Blocks of CompetencyBased Learning: Competencies, Assessment, Learning, and Grading – Rose Colby, Education Consultant

Session 1 and 2 (Workshop)

Transparency = Ownership: A Model for Student-Centered Learning – Alison Hramiec, Boston Day and Evening Academy (more…)

Does the NCAA Allow Online Courses or Competency-Based Education?

April 1, 2013 by
Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 9.42.30 PM

Nick Sproull;
Associate Director of High School Review at the National Collegiate Athletic Association

Does the NCAA allow online courses for high school athletes to be eligible for college?  The short answer is yes, as long as they are college preparatory in nature for core courses and exhibit clear characteristics where the nature of instruction, assessment and interaction (with evidence) are all college preparatory.

I get asked this question over and over about the NCAA and online courses.

Why is the NCAA in the business of reviewing high school courses in the first place?  I have found the NCAA High School Review Committee to be very focused on helping make sure student athletes are prepared academically for future success.

In a discussion about the NCAA’s role, the NCAA notes:
Intercollegiate athletics is a high-stakes environment in which we have witnessed both adults and students looking for ways to “game the system,” by presenting documents that might suggest that students are prepared for college-level academic work though the opposite may be true.  The NCAA is in a unique position in that it must be open to new and innovative learning models while simultaneously being mindful of the propensities for abuse.  Because the NCAA observed alarming patterns of student-athletes attempting to gain a “quick fix” to their academic troubles through online courses in the last decade, rules were adopted by the NCAA membership in 2010 to allow for the approval of online and blended learning coursework that meets specific requirements to ensure college-readiness. (more…)

Competency-Based Learning and FLVS

January 14, 2013 by

FLVS-LogoCompetency based learning has its origins in the business world. High school graduates who decide to become a barber, for example, would need specialized training in cutting hair.  They would take an assessment to verify competency before receiving a license to cut hair. In order to maintain global standing, industry and education leaders teamed up to create a description of elements for 21st century outcomes. These elements would identify those skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for our future work force to be competent in the 21st century market, much like a competency exam that a plumber, electrician, mechanic, or other trained and skilled professional would need in order to practice their profession competently. These 21st century learning skills are embedded in the Common Core State Standards as well as the focus of the work and design of Florida Virtual School (FLVS) courses.

Many examples of benchmark competency-based practices can be found in FLVS courses. These include the following:

Assessments Against Competencies

Florida Virtual School builds its courses around this concept. Courses are built with formative and summative assessments embedded throughout the course measuring the students’ competency and mastery of the standards, which are based on the 21st skills. There are three components of these assessments against competencies: self-assessment, multi-source, and assessments through other methods.

  • In the self-assessment, learners are able to manage their own mastery level, and take appropriate action to relearn skills before attempting a formal assessment.    Students are able to “own” their own learning and work on those things they actually need to do as opposed to a traditional school where a student will sit through a lesson with the rest of a class even if they don’t individually need it.
  • Multi-source assessments allow the learner to get feedback through multiple formats. With pre-tests, formative assessments throughout the lessons, and summative assessments, students receive feedback from multiple sources. In addition, Florida Virtual School teachers complete discussion based assessments in each unit of study. Teachers verbally assess for mastery before students can move on to the next module. This ensures a deeper understanding in subjects that build upon previous understandings, such as foreign languages or math.  The teacher is the gatekeeper, who only allows the students to move on when mastery is demonstrated through work products and thorough discussions. Students also have some collaborative projects which provide opportunities for students to work together and building knowledge collaboratively.
  • An assessment through other methods is the third format delineated. FLVS provides many assessment options in its courses. In Physical Education, students will actually self-monitor and report exercise logs and personal goals and benchmarks of activity. In many courses, especially in science, students perform labs and will video tape their work. Students use multiple ways to communicate to their teacher evidence of mastery.


When Is It Competency Education? And When Is It Not?

December 14, 2012 by

Photo by Jorge Machado

It’s getting popular. Many schools claim to be using competency education. Does offering adaptive software or blended learning immediately make a school competency-based?

It’s getting confusing. Blended/online learning and competency education are often used interchangeably, even if the blended learning is being used in a totally time-based system.

What to do?  We need some common language. So here is a first cut using a competency-based grading model. (A note: I use course to describe a unit of learning and level to describe a band of learning along the full K-12 learning progression, which we refer to as grades such as 1st or 10th grade in the time-based system) :


Blended Learning and Competency-Based Education Collide in Colorado

June 26, 2012 by

The Donnell-Kay Foundation (DKF), Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and the Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) recently hosted a three-part blended learning series. Each part highlighted one component of blended learning: best practices and barriers to implementation, professional development and collaboration, and national policy and next steps for Colorado.

The third session had direct discussions surrounding competency-based education with speakers Utah State Senator Howard Stephenson, and New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather both presenting the progress in their respective states. You can watch the archived webinars and access presentation materials at the Donnell-Kay Foundation’s website.

It may have been a series on blended learning, but it was clear that a competency-based education system is a goal for Colorado. Educators and (more…)

Khan’s Big Contribution Will Be Competency-Based Learning

June 22, 2012 by

Carrie Morgridge kicked off the 4th Sharefair at the University of Denver’s Richie Center with a description of the benefits of blended learning.  The Morgridge Family Foundation has been a big supporter of DU and the adoption of personalized learning technology by Colorado and Florida schools.

Carrie introduced Sal Khan whose videos have been an important contribution to global learning.  His 3100 videos receive about 6 million views (more…)

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