Some Numbers on Blended Learning.

Chris Riedel wrote an excellent article for THE Journal. For the 2012-2013 academic year, Florida Virtual School (FLVS) had 410,963 half-credit enrollments and a student population consisting of 30 percent minorities. Of the total population, 72 percent came from public and charter schools, 22 percent from home school environments and 6 percent from private schools.

In 2000, there were 45,000 K-12 courses delivered online, in 2009 that number was more than 3 million and by 2019, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of all high school courses may be delivered online. These numbers suggest that traditional public school teachers had better research some of the positive factors from online education and incorporate them into their classroom pedagogy.

Online education, virtual education, distance learning, blended learning, hybrid delivery all seem to be converging on what educators have long believed to be the holy grail of “personalized” or student-centered education.

Another important move in online education is heading in a new direction. This program will extend the promise of free online education to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and allows US universities to export their intellectual properties around the world in MOOCs. While the lecture may have been filmed at Stanford or Harvard, the group discussion will take place in Caribbean learning hubs in libraries, embassies and local colleges. Many NGOs are looking to MOOCs to educate the developing world. Many believe that MOOCs could finally be the ticket for education ridding itself of Baumol’s Disease. If only the education oligopolies had the same noble intentions.

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Kahoot – A Kahool Ed Tech Freebie

Getkahoot.com has been an end of the school year treat for my students preparing for their comprehensive final exam. I discovered this website in my Edsurge newsletter and experimented with it while doing a Vietnam War unit with my students. To my delight, they loved it.

Students use an internet enabled device to enter a PIN and register their response. This is great for my class which only has 30 iPads, but usually 38 students.  A number of other bloggers have published more comprehensive reviews: new features, engaging assessment, and formative freebie.

I do not use Kahoot as part of my formal assessment program, but consider it an excellent checking for understanding tool. I have found that if you allow students more than 20 seconds to answer a question, they start checking around to see what their friends are answering. I give progressive amounts of extra-credit points to people on the leaderboard and everyone else who plays. It is fun to watch students react to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Kahoot will easily download all the data to an excel spreadsheet. If you ask your students to make their nickname their last name and first initial, then it is easy to sort the names in the spreadsheet and copy into your gradebook.

Here is a short video that showcases how Kahoot will increase the student engagement in your class.  Try it out. Have some fun. Lord knows we need more of that in public education these days.

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Use of Student Surveys for Teacher Evaluations

As support seems to be slipping for value added models and biased classroom observations, educational leaders may be well advised to consider incorporating student surveys into teacher evaluations.  Eduwonk has an interesting post and paper available on this topic.

I am posting a short promo video that explains how to analyze student survey data. As a small school principal, I analyzed over 3,000 teacher evaluations.  The video is to promote an upcoming MOOC on improving teacher-student relationships that will start on http://www.canvas.net on September 22, 2014.

Strong Results on Blended Learning

A recent study by Princeton student, Laura Du concludes that Blended Learning schools perform as well or better on California statewide standardized tests than non-blended schools.  Blended learning is associated with gains of up to 0.84 standard deviations in math achievement and up to 0.42 standard deviations in ELA. These gains represent the difference between “Basic” and “Proficient.”

Laura concludes by stating research on blended learning must keep pace with the innovation.  To do that we are going to need more teachers collecting data on blended learning lessons. Readers interested can contact her at LDU@princeton.edu and request the entire study. 

Personally, I feel that teachers should be conducting this type of research in their classrooms.  In the table below, I compare classwork and homework completion rates of blended or “flipped” assignments to the completion rates of traditional assignments.

Flipped Classroom Traditional Classroom
Classwork Completion Percentage 0.77 0.70
Homework Completion Percentage 0.71 0.63

This data suggests that students prefer flipped, or blended assignments.  I have not been able to measure whether or not blended learning leads to greater achievement gains in my classes. The averages on my classroom assessments show no statistical differences. Thus, I am inspired with the methodology of Laura’s study and I hope it leads other teachers and educational researchers to examine blended learning outcomes with renewed vigor.

Teacher Entrepreneurial Orientation – Part 3

RQ2: Does the distribution of EO characteristics vary at different types of schools?

ANOVA revealed elementary teachers were significantly higher on innovation than middle or high school teachers (p = .027). Middle school and high school teachers were not significantly different (p > .999). Elementary teacher scores were significantly higher on proactiveness than high school teachers (p = .002), while there were no significant differences between middle and high school teachers (p = .807).

Elementary teachers were significantly higher on innovation than middle or high school teachers. Elementary teachers were significantly higher on proactiveness than high school teachers. Possible reasons for this finding may stem from differences in multiple subject and single subject credentialing in California. These teachers have different motivations for entering the profession, different backgrounds, and different training.

RQ3: Are certain EO factors more frequently reported by teachers.

ANOVA showed all teachers reported significantly higher levels of innovation than proactiveness. All teachers reported significantly higher levels of innovation than risk taking. All teachers reported significantly higher levels of proactiveness than risk taking (all ps < .001). Innovativeness was the most frequently reported EO characteristic with a mean of 4.54, followed by proactiveness with a mean of 4.36, and then risk taking with a mean of 3.09. These significant differences indicate that the EO factors of innovativeness, proactiveness, and risk taking are distinct constructs and may be examined independently.

RQ4: Is one subgroup of teachers more disposed to innovativeness, proactiveness, or risk taking?

Multiple regression analysis showed that gender had a significant effect on all three subscales and overall EO score. ANOVA testing revealed that females reported a higher overall EO score and significantly higher levels of innovation and proactiveness (all ps < .02). There was no significant difference in risk taking (p = .140). There were no significant differences in EO levels by ethnicity (all ps > .154). While this study revealed that female teachers scored significantly higher on innovativeness and proactiveness than their male counterparts, it does not suggest that female teachers produce higher student achievement, however, female teachers may be more suited to educational start-ups than male teachers.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that EO research is relevant in education. Teacher EO examination may provide districts with a cost effective method in identifying school leaders and instructional talent more likely to be successful in start-up schools. Further, educational leaders may benefit from understanding how EO and the individual factors of innovativeness, proactiveness, and risk taking impact their practices and procedures.

Teacher Entrepreneurial Orientation – Part 2

Problem Statement

Research has not presented a clear way to classify teachers’ entrepreneurial aptitudes. As the number of innovative programs in education increase, will there be enough teachers with entrepreneurial orientation for these schools? Transferring EO research into education may inform policy makers how to identify entrepreneurial teachers and sustain innovation.

EO Domain Definitions

Innovativeness captures a teacher’s willingness to depart from traditional methods of teaching and learning by developing novel ideas, experimenting with new approaches, and being creative. Proactiveness captures a teacher’s initiative when anticipating problems, identifying opportunities to solve them, taking immediate, often preventative action, and persevering until their planning brings about results. Risk taking captures a teacher’s willingness to take chances and gamble on unproven approaches, even when the outcome is highly uncertain.

Methodology

This study used California’s Department of Education school affidavit website. Excel files were downloaded in three categories: charter, private, and traditional public. Principals’ email addresses were randomly selected and sent a solicitation, which they could forward on to their teachers for participation in the study. A total of 729 California teachers completed the survey. Exploratory factor analysis confirmed the consistency and reliability of the instrument. Multiple regression tested EO factors as constant variables, while school type, school level, years of teaching, gender, and ethnicity were controlled. ANOVA tests were run to determine which results had statistical significance.

Factor Analysis

Risk taking, with an eigenvalue of 5.91, accounted for 22% of the variance in total EO score. Innovativeness, with an eigenvalue of 3.09, accounted for 20% of the variance in total EO score. Proactiveness, with an eigenvalue of 1.39, accounted for 16% of the variance in total EO score. These factors combined accounted for 58% of the total variance in total EO score.

RQ1: Do EO scores differ among teachers in charter, private, and public schools?

Differences on the EO subscales for the three types of schools were compared using ANOVA and there were no significant differences between charter, private, and public school teachers along innovation (all ps > .712). Public school teachers scored significantly higher on the proactive subscale, than charter school teachers (p = .011). Charter school teachers scored significantly higher on the risk taking subscale, than traditional public school teachers (p = .003). Charter schools and private schools are often perceived as being more innovative than traditional public schools (Broughman et al., 2011; Lake, 2008), yet these scores did not reflect this. These results agree with the hypothesis that charter school teacher turnover may explain the lack of difference in student achievement between charters and traditional public schools (Payne, 2013).

The significant difference between traditional public school teachers and charter school teachers on proactiveness may suggest that unionized teachers in the public school sector feel more comfortable advocating for their students. The finding that charter school teachers scored significantly higher along the risk taking subscale is consistent with research that shows seniority-based hiring practices employed by public schools discourage mobility (Moe, 2011). This may explain why public school teachers in this study scored lower along the risk taking subscale.

Teacher Entrepreneurial Orientation – Part 1

Author’s Note: This summary is from my 31,000 word, 151 page doctoral dissertation on Teacher Entrepreneurial Orientation. Since it would be cruel and unusual punishment to ask anyone to read that, I have broken it into three approximately 400 word sections. If you are a doctoral student interested in this line of work, I would be happy to share EO resources with you. Contact me via the form on the About page.

Where Are The Risk Takers? Using The Entrepreneurial Orientation Construct To Identify Innovative And Proactive Teachers

Entrepreneurs in education have altered the services and the delivery of services that the public expects to receive from traditional school systems. Many current innovations require teachers to be more entrepreneurial. Research indicates that entrepreneurial characteristics that contribute to success in other professions may predict success for entrepreneurs in education. Yet, most personality profiles of teachers reveal they do not share entrepreneurs’ risk taking propensities. Thus, promising educational innovations may not be realized because there are insufficient numbers of entrepreneurial teachers to implement them. This quantitative study of 729 California teachers adapted an Entrepreneurial Orientation instrument, widely used in management research, to determine whether teachers in charter, traditional public, and private schools differ along scales of innovativeness, proactiveness, and risk taking.

Many policy makers see innovation as a lever for change in public education. Education entrepreneurs have been investigated by numerous researchers: (Childress, 2010; Hess, 2006, 2008, 2010; Lake, 2008; Lubienski, 2003, 2009). Teacher leadership has been subject to widespread focus (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Schmoker, 2011). Farris-Berg et al. (2013) posit that teachers could be the social entrepreneurs we need for K-12. They found teacher partnerships design stunningly different approaches to teaching and learning and create management cultures that emulate those of high-performing organizations. Sears, Kennedy and Kaye (1997) found teacher personalities are not likely to lead reform movements, or become tomorrow’s educational leaders. (Clark & Guest, 1995) suggest that more risk-taking, visionaries, and trouble-shooters will be needed, as teachers expand their roles.

Carsrud & Brannback (2011) maintain that research on personality traits can be a way to understand entrepreneurial behavior. Study of entrepreneurial orientation as a construct has evolved and expanded over thirty years. (Rauch, Wiklund, Lumpkin, & Frese, 2009) This meta-analysis suggested that EO is a significant predictor of performance. Several EO researchers (Bolton & Lane, 2012; Covin & Slevin, 1991; Miller, 1983; and Rauch, Frese, Koenig, & Wang, 2009) argue for conducting inquiry with the original three dimensions of innovativeness, proactiveness, and risk taking. Others (Basso, Fayolle, & Bouchard, 2009; Chadwick, Barnett, & Dwyer, 2008; Covin  & Lumpkin, 2011; Dess, Pinkham, & Yang, 2011; and Lumpkin & Dess, 1996) claim the Entrepreneurial Orientation construct should be expanded to a larger set of five dimensions: autonomy, innovativeness, proactiveness, risk taking and competitive aggressiveness.

Blended Learning Experiment Cuts Course Fail Rate 50%

Students in my high school courses traditionally complete 60 graded assignments for a total of 2,000 points per semester. My grading system measures student performance via timed tasks with firm deadlines. Classwork/homework assignments are worth 10 points. Bi-weekly quizzes check for understanding and are worth 50 points. The most important part of my instructional program is in-class writing assignments, which are timed and worth 100 points each. I have experienced a relatively consistent a 22-28% course fail rate over the past ten years.

Last year, thanks to my principal gifting me with a cart of thirty iPads, I was able to offer twenty-five blended learning lessons to my students. These online activities extended my course and ranged from external reading assignments assessed by multiple choice quizzes, viewing historical videos and creating a timeline, notes or writing a response to the video. Other activities were note-taking tutorials, flipped mini-lectures, outlining chapter sections, and building flashcard sets of academic and content specific vocabulary. I also provided creative activities where students could develop a flow chart for an argument, or draw a cartoon illustrating a historical event or concept. Other assignments were discussion board posts of at least 100 words.

Students’ enthusiasm for these assignments built over the semester, partially because the students had control over the assignments and could work on them when they chose. Over the course of the semester, they finished more and more. At the end of the semester, my course failure rate was 13%, the lowest it has ever been in my career as a teacher. Now, I don’t have enough evidence to claim that the iPads alone have improved my course failure rate, but the facts are clear. Our students are spending more and more time online, and online, or blended learning is becoming a necessary arrow in an effective teacher’s quiver.

A short survey of my students revealed that 88% have internet service at home and 81% report using the internet daily, or multiple times per day. 64% of these students spend 2 hours or more online, most frequently participating in social networking, chatting, listening to music, watching videos, and gaming. Only 5.7% of these students reported reading online.   There is a tremendous opportunity for teachers who are willing to learn how to use technology creatively and turn this recreation time into increased instructional time.

Unfortunately, most brick and mortar schools have not leveraged online techniques that allow students choice over time, place, or pace to demonstrate their knowledge. With training, teachers will be able to add creative and engaging lessons online and more students may pass. Last year, 639 students took World History. A twenty-four percent fail rate means that 154 students need to repeat the class. This requires four sections of World History at a 38:1 student-teacher ratio. Thus, if  blended learning could be implemented on a wider scale, we could reduce our course failure rates, and repurpose monies spent on costly remediation.

Note: A version of this article was published by the Common Core Technology Project in March, 2014.  You can see that article here: http://lausd.schoolwires.net/Page/4296

Inaugural Post

This blog is being launched to promote a MOOC I will be teaching with my former principal Mr. W. Charles Thomas. The course will be called Improving Teacher and Student Relationships. It will be free and hosted by the Canvas Network (www.canvas.net).

This course will give both traditional classroom and virtual teachers resources for improving relationships and interactions with students. After reviewing research and current trends in learning and motivation theory, this course will allow teachers to think-aloud and practice with new tools within a caring community of instructors seeking to improve their classroom practices. Playlists of leveled readings, video lectures, and research-based curricular resources will assist course participants in applying their learning and getting ready for the start of a great school year. One instructor will offer the virtual teacher’s perspective, while the other will cover the traditional, brick and mortar classroom teacher’s viewpoint.

This six-week course will provide videos, readings, and bulletin board discussions on improving classroom relationships and interactions. We will employ frequent, interactive video quizzes, offer simulations in solving problems of practice, and peer reviewed projects to keep adult learners engaged in pedagogy. Playlists of research-based activities will allow teachers to “thinkaloud” and practice with new tools within a caring instructional community. One instructor will offer the virtual teacher’s perspective, while the other will cover the traditional, brick and mortar classroom teacher’s viewpoint.

I hope you will join us when we head back to school in September 2014.