Monthly Archives: September 2013

Should Education Funds Cover Online Classes? – NewsFactor Network


Growing concerns over how much state education funding should go to online courses are prompting lawmakers to create a range of policies, but no clear consensus has yet emerged.


The issue of funding online schools is “huge” and “ongoing,” says Sunny Deye, a senior policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. She says, for most states, the focus is on online high school education.


One trend has been a focus on “funding student choice at the course level,” which involves taking a percentage of the funding to pay for the online course, Deye says.


Students are “blending” the brick-and-mortar experience with online courses, she says, and states are opening up to providers who can accommodate those students and parents’ choices of courses.


Some states are placing limits on how many of these online courses the student can take:


–Texas. In June, the state approved legislation that allows students to take a maximum of three courses from providers outside their district.


–Michigan. Also in June, the state passed legislation permitting students to take two online classes from another district each semester.


Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of the Michigan Virtual University, says students in grades 5-12 can reference both their local school district’s catalog of courses and the statewide catalog.

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He says there is nothing preventing a Michigan school district from partnering with a for-profit provider to supplement learning. However, for-profit providers cannot independently place their online courses in the statewide catalog, which will be made available the first week of October.


–Tennessee. Earlier this year, the state passed legislation to place a cap on how many students can be initially enrolled in full-time online schools, while also making sure the schools meet performance standards, Deye says. The bill was passed in January, and students who enroll in these full-time online schools are fully funded by the state, says Jason Horne, principal of the Tennessee Online Public School.


Quality control is another issue states are exploring. A 2012 bill that would have established quality control over online courses failed in Arizona, when it was vetoed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. Some states, including Utah and Louisiana, give 50% of the funding upfront to the online provider and 50% upon course completion.


John Watson, founder of the Evergreen Education Group, says online schools are often funded similarly to charter schools. The most controversy with funding online schools, he says, has been seen in Pennsylvania and Arizona, where school districts feel they are losing a high level of funding to online schools.


Stuart Knade, chief counsel of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, says many people believe that excessive funding goes to online schools.


“What we are missing is a funding scheme that is predictable, reliable and consistent that has a direct relationship to the cost of providing an education and the number of kids being educated,” Knade says.
 

© 2013 USA TODAY under contract with YellowBrix. All rights reserved.



 

WV. State gets funds to expand online classes – WOWK

DUNBAR, WV -

DUNBAR, WV. (AP) – West Virginia State University is getting more than $500,000 in funding for a project focused on expanding online biology and agriculture courses.

Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller say the $533,674 in funds is from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Officials say the project called “Learning and Teaching Biological and Agricultural Science Online: Success Through Comprehensive Training, Development, and Research,” will bring best online education practices to the school.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Caltech to offer more online classes – Los Angeles Daily News




Next month, Caltech will join 28 other prestigious colleges and universities in offering courses through an Internet education platform launched in 2012 by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In addition to video lectures, the online initiative edX will allows students to customize when they want to take quizzes and use learning resources, while faculty will be able to embed textbook chapters, discussion boards and diagrams into the platform’s layout for classes.

Called Massive Open Online Courses, the classes will begin in October at Caltech and be offered through the edX platform xConsortium.



The edX classes will join three other classes at Caltech offered through Coursera, another online learning platform. The data from edX and Coursera could provide information about how students best learn materials, especially in science.

“Caltech occupies this advanced, really rigorous scientific education space, and in general our interest in these online courses is to maintain that rigor and quality,” said Cassandra Horii, teaching and learning programs director at Caltech.

“So, with these learning data, we have some potential contributions to make to the general understanding of learning in this niche that we occupy.”



Coursera and edX courses are offered at no cost to students.

Coursera is a for-profit organization that partners with many institutions and state university systems, and edX is a nonprofit that plans to only partner with a small number of institutions, according to a Caltech news release.

“Coursera and edX have some foundational differences which are of interest to the faculty,” Horii said.

In 2012, Yaser Abu-Mostafa, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Caltech, developed a Massive Open Online Course on machine learning called Learning from Data, which is similar to edX and Coursera. Abu-Mostafa offered the class in April 2012 on YouTube and iTunes U.



The Massive Open Online Courses at Caltech will continue to provide a high-learning environment that is both rigorous and accessible, according to the news release.

“No dumbing down of courses for popular consumption,” Abu-Mostafa said. “No talking over people’s heads, either.”