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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

 

REL-Midwest - The Virtual Algebra Study: Impact of Offering an Online Algebra I Course to Eighth Graders With No Local Access

The first session of the afternoon at the REL-Midwest: Online Learning Opportunities For Rural Schools event was "The Virtual Algebra Study: Impact of Offering an Online Algebra I Course to Eighth Graders With No Local Access" by Peggy Clements of the REL Northeast and Islands at Education Development Center.

Peggy began her session by describing that her results are still not approved for release (see NRCRES Conference: Increasing Rural 8th Graders’ Access to Algebra I: Is Online Education An Effective Alternative? for an earlier entry roughly the same as this one), so she won't be providing any findings but will be discussing the study - particularly the nature of the intervention. As much of this was reported in the previous entry, I'll just include additional comments here.

One of the things that Peggy did clarify was that the focus of the study was not to compare student performance between face-to-face and online students. It was focused on expand access to students who wouldn't otherwise have access to Algebra I in grade 8 (for the students that were ready to take algebra).

As a reminder, the primary research questions were:
  1. What is the impact of offering Algebra I online to AR students on their end-of-eighth grade algebra achievement?
  2. What is the impact of offering Algebra I online to AR students on their subsequent high school course taking?
The secondary research questions:
  1. What is the impact of offering Algebra I online to AR students on the N-AR students mathematics achievement?
  2. What is the impact of offering Algebra I online to AR students on the n-AR students subsequent high school course taking?
  3. What is the impact of offering Algebra I online to AR students on the AR general mathematics achievement?
This study was a randomized control trial, where the following groups existed:
Peggy than began to describe the nature of the online Algebra I course - which was asynchronous, self-paced, with the presence of a school-based proctor. This set-up resulted in 80% of the students being in the back of the classroom, during the regular grade 8 mathematics class with the regular mathematics teacher being the proctor (and teaching the regular grade 8 math class during this time). The course was a Class.com course, taught by a teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The remainder of the presentation was looking at samples of the online Algebra I course. It was basically a model where students would read through an online, interactive textbook or they could view an interactive chalkboard that provided a narrated worked example. After reviewing these items, students would complete practice and exploratory activities, along with graded assignments based on open-ended prompts and then graded multiple-choice quizzes.

The results are expected to be reported in Spring 2011.

This entry is re-posted at REL-Midwest - The Virtual Algebra Study: Impact of Offering an Online Algebra I Course to Eighth Graders With No Local Access on Virtual School Meanderings.

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REL-Midwest - Enhancing Instruction In Rural Schools

The third session at the REL-Midwest: Online Learning Opportunities For Rural Schools event was a response to Matt's keynote presentation by:

Their response was entitled "Enhancing Instruction In Rural Schools".

Dawn was the first practitioner to respond to Matt's presentation. She began by highlighting the reasons why students in Wisconsin are enrolled in K-12 online learning experiences (and she also gave a big plug for iNACOL here - as I believe the slide was taken from content found, or often used, by that organization). She continued with the standards "equal or better" lines. She did present some interesting statistics about the Wisconsin Virtual School:

She then discussed a study that they conducted with nine of their Local Education Guides (LEGs) from 2006 to 2008. They also found that the role of the school-based or local teacher was a critical role, and Dawn provided a series of quotes that were representative of the strategies that these LEGs used to keep students motivated in their online courses. Many of their training materials are available on their website (look for a LEG Resource link).

Nancy was the next person to speak. She began with A LOT of her own personal history in rural education and online learning. In fact, most of Nancy's discussion was a history of rural education and online learning through her personal involvement.

The responses finished with Annette, who also gave a personal story - although more focused on a specific program... A blended experience in the Algoma School District, which came about when Annette only had a single student in her AP Physics student. In the end, after the guidance counselor was about to rope another three students into the course, the district created a program with a total of 24 students - 4 students at Algoma and 20 students from around the state. The remainder of her comments provided details about this blended program how she managed it, what the student success was, and her perceived advantaged and challenged with the program.

This entry is re-posted at REL-Midwest - Enhancing Instruction In Rural Schools on Virtual School Meanderings.

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REL-Midwest - Rural Distance Learning Project: Overview of Research And Findings

The second session at the REL-Midwest: Online Learning Opportunities For Rural Schools event was a keynote presentation by Matt Irvin of the National Research Center on Rural Education Support on "Rural Distance Learning Project: Overview of Research And Findings".

He began with some of the same rural issues that Doris had mentioned, although with a focus on the small student populations limiting funding and course selection, along with the inability to attract and retain high quality teachers. While distance education can be used as a way to address some of these issues, there are some challenges for the use of distance education in the K-12 environment (including isolationism, lack of interaction, high drop-out rate).

He then moved to a discussion of the rural education education survey that they conducted in 2005-06. The survey included 400 randomly selected school districts, including 10% that qualified for the Small Rural School Achievement program and 10% that qualified for the Rural Low Income School program, and had a 95% participation rate. Some of the results included:
Matt then moved on to a discussion of the Enhancing Rural Online Learning project and the actual intervention or training that was created for the school-based facilitator. The study itself was a 2 year cluster randomized controlled trial that included:
The study thus far has found that the program reduced drop-out rate (i.e., student in an individual course and schools leaving the distance program), but did not appear to affect student learning. Based on the qualitative data, the teachers felt that the presence of a facilitator was crucial. The facilitators reported that the main challenges were with the students enrolled in AP courses (e.g., rigor of the course and grading, lack of face-to-face communication, and lack of immediate feedback from online instruction). Finally, the facilitators were positive towards the Facilitator Preparation Program, indicating that they were very, very helpful - as it clarified their role and need to actively support students.

This entry is re-posted at REL-Midwest - Rural Distance Learning Project: Overview of Research And Findings on Virtual School Meanderings.

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REL-Midwest – Framing the Conversation: Enhancing the Educational Outcomes of Rural Children Through Distance Learning and Technology

So, the first session at the REL-Midwest: Online Learning Opportunities For Rural Schools event was a discussion on the topic "Framing the Conversation: Enhancing the Educational Outcomes of Rural Children Through Distance Learning and Technology" that began with some comments by Doris Terry Williams, the Director of Capacity Building for the Rural School and Community Trust.

Doris began with some quick facts about rural education.
Many of the points that I missed dealt with the connection between rural education and educating lower socio-economic status students.

On one of the final slides, entitled "Bottom Line..." it read:

Rural students, like all others, are entitled to a quality education- even if their local communities cannot afford or don't have the will to provide it.

Appropriate use of technology and distance education is one means of ensuring that they have greater access.


At that stage, the moderator introduced Matt Irvin of the National Research Center on Rural Education Support (and I'll discuss his keynote in my next blog entry).

This entry is re-posted at REL-Midwest – Framing the Conversation: Enhancing the Educational Outcomes of Rural Children Through Distance Learning and Technology on Virtual School Meanderings.

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REL-Midwest: Online Learning Opportunities For Rural Schools

A reminder that Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) - Midwest pre-conference event focused on Online Learning Opportunities for Rural Schools is being held today and I will be blogging about all of the sessions (except my own, which I hope to record and podcast later). Again, I'll disclose here that I am one of the keynote speakers at this REL-Midwest event. The sessions they have organized include:
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

8:30−9:15 a.m. Registration

9:15–9:30 a.m. Welcome and Introductions
  • Matt Dawson, Ph.D., Director, REL Midwest at Learning Point Associates
9:30–11:00 a.m. Framing the Conversation: Enhancing the Educational Outcomes of Rural Children Through Distance Learning and Technology
  • Moderator: Doris Terry Williams, Ph.D., Director of Capacity Building for the Rural School and Community Trust
  • Presenter: Matt Irvin, Ph.D., National Research Center on Rural Education Support
  • Commentators:
    • Nancy Burns, Superintendent, West Salem School District
    • Dawn Nordine, Director, Wisconsin Virtual School and CESA 9 Instructional Technology
    • Annette Walaszek, Teacher, Wisconsin Virtual School
11:00–11:30 a.m. Collaborative Discussion With Panel

11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00–2:00 p.m. The Virtual Algebra Study: Impact of Offering an Online Algebra I Course to Eighth Graders With No Local Access
  • Keynote Presenter: Peggy Clements, Ph.D., REL Northeast and Islands at Education Development Center
2:00–2:45 p.m. Rural K–12 Students’ Learning in Virtual School Environments
  • Keynote Presenter: Michael K. Barbour, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Instructional Technology, Wayne State University
2:45–3:00 p.m. Break

3:00–3:45 p.m. Reflections and Connections

3:45–4:15 p.m. Sharing Connections and Concluding Remarks
  • Presenters:
    • Dr. Matt Irvin, National Research Center on Rural Education Support
    • Dr. Peggy Clements, REL Northeast and Islands
    • Dr. Michael Barbour, Wayne State University
4:15 p.m. Adjournment
This entry has been cross-posted at REL-Midwest: Online Learning Opportunities For Rural Schools on Virtual School Meanderings.

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