The California Learning Resource Network (CLRN), a state-funded technology project that reviews online courses, conducts an annual eLearning Census to take the online and blended learning temperature of California’s public school districts and direct-funded charters. After building a database of more than 1000 school districts and 763 direct-funded charter schools, we began contacting them on March 1st, to report both online and blended student populations, courseware selection, and blended models in use. These results are from 516 district and charter schools, representing 29% of the overall population. Our 2013 Census report, Between the Tipping Point and Critical Mass, may be downloaded from clrn.org/census. California eLearning Census March 1, 2013 – May 1, 2013 1777 K-12 districts & direct-funded charters 1014 + 763 (43% charters) Results from 516 districts (29%)
While charters make up 43% of all school entities, just 28% of our responses came from direct-funded charters. Census data from locally controlled charters is included in district data and was not separated out. Direct-funded charters, though, are independent entities controlled by their own governing board. In addition, we’ve disaggregated data from both elementary (K-8 or K-5) institutions and unified school districts (K-12 or 9-12) institutions.
So, how many districts are implementing online learning? We found that 46% of all districts and charters indicated they were using some form of online or blended learning. While last year’s data indicated that we may have passed online learning’s tipping point, this year’s census seems to indicate that online and blended learning is firmly entrenched in California’s schools and that we are in the period between the tipping point and critical mass.
Are online and blended learning being adopted at different rates and in different modes at elementary and unified districts? In 2012, 16% of elementary districts reported students were learning online. In 2013, the number of districts and charters involved increased to 19%. However, in unified and high school districts, 68% learned online in 2012, while 73% reported online and blended students in 2013. 253 K-8 districts; 48 are elearning (19%), up from 16% in 2012 263 K-12/9-12 districts; 191 are elearning (72%)
eLearning adoption even varies between charter schools and school districts. While last year’s adoption was fairly consistent between the two, in 2013, 53% of charters and 44% of districts indicated they were supporting eLearning. 77 of 144 Charters elearn 162 of 372 districts elearn
If Districts and charters weren’t involved in eLearning, we asked them if they were currently discussing or planning to implement online learning . 26% shared they were currently in the planning stages 72 of 273
However, unified and high school districts and charters are more invested in investigating online learning than elementary districts. Just 20% of (40 of the 201) K-8 districts that are not elearning, say they are planning to implement it, while 44% of the unified and high school districts and charters (32 of 72) are planning to implement online and blended learning.
Desire to implement eLearning is fairly equal between districts and direct-funded charter schools with slightly more districts in the planning process. 24% of direct-funded charters plan to implement eLearning as compared with 27% of school districts.
Actual population numbers have increased too. In 2012, we counted 19,820 full-time online (virtual) students In 2013, those numbers increased to 24,383 virtual students. and 86,257 blended students. Last year, we counted just more than 86K blended students, but this year’s total is just under 100,882 blended students. This represents a 23% increase in the number of full-time virtual students and a 17% increase in blended learning. Virtual: 19,820 (N: 60 (50% district, 50% charters) Blended: 86,675 N:172 (75% districts, 24% charters) 2013 Virtual: 24,383 2013 Blended: 100,882
Median populations, though, are often more telling. The median, the point where half the districts have more than the number and half have less also increased in 2013. Last year, half of California’s districts and charters had more than 80 students blending their learning while this year the median rose to 100. Last year, the median number of virtual students was 56 full-time online students, but in 2013, the median blended population rose to 100 students. Both median populations increased 25% 2013. 2013: 69 districts reported full-time virtual students 2013 Medians: Blended-100; Virtual -70
In 2012, the most popular blended model was Self Blend, which the Innosight Institute has just renamed the “Al la Carte” model, followed by the Enriched-Virtual, a model used by Independent Study schools in California. This seems to indicate that non-consumers, students who are using eLearning to supplement their transcript or schools that provide online courses not offered in the classroom, are a driving force. We also found that 31% of districts and direct-funded charters are utilizing more than one blended learning model. Self Blend: 60% Enriched-Virtual: 36% Rotation: 29% Flex: 17%
In 2013, though, the Rotation method overtook the Self-Blend (46% to 40%) followed in third by Enriched Virtual. This year, 34% of districts and direct-funded charters reported they are utilizing more than one blended learning model. Self Blend: 60% Enriched-Virtual: 36% Rotation: 29% Flex: 17%
When separating elementary and unified districts, though, we found that the predominate model in elementary districts was the Rotation method, followed by 80% of districts and charters. Just 15% of elementary districts indicated they were using more than one blended model. 6 of 40 had two blended models in place.
In unified and high school districts last year, the predominate blended model was the Self-Blend followed by Enriched Virtual.
This year, though, the numbers flipped a little with 48% reporting using the Self-Blend, followed by the Rotation and Enriched Virtual models. 38% of these districts report using more than one blended model.
Last year, the dominate course publishers included Apex, K12 and their subsidiary Aventa, and Cyber High. In 2012, nearly a quarter of all districts purchased courseware from more than one provider.
While California’s schools purchase online courses from a variety of publishers and providers, the top four players are nearly the same as 2012: Apex Learning, Aventa, Cyber High and Odysseyware. We found it interesting that a substantial number of districts are creating their own courses. However, while 23% of districts purchased courses from more than one vendor in 2012, 46% of districts and charters utilized multiple publishers in 2013. This seems to both confirm virtual and blended learning’s expansion and districts’ willingness to select courses that meet the needs of specific populations.
Districts creating their own courses or blending their learning primarily utilized the Kahn Academy, dominating at 87%, unchanged from 2012.
As the census drew to a close, we sent a supplemental survey to those districts that were purchasing courses, asking them about their selection process. When asked what factors they considered when selecting courseware, the top four choices were price, comparing courses to content standards, the U.C. A-G approved list, and examined course outlines. Sadly, few districts realize that by selecting from the UC A-G Approved courses, they’re also depending on CLRN’s certified course reviews. None 1 0% Selected only CLRN Certified courses. 3 6% Colleague recommendation 17 32% Vendor demonstration 22 42% Data supplied by curriculum provider 22 42% Examined course outlines 29 55% U.C. A-G list 32 60% Compared the course to the content standards 32 Price 41 77%
CLRN created the California eLearning Census to track both the growth and variety of online and blended learning in California. One of our motivations was Clayton Christensen’s and Michael Horn’s book, Disrupting Class, which predicted that online and blended learning would reach a tipping point in 2013 and that by 2019, 50% of all high school courses would be online. Our second annual census indicates a definite increase in both numbers and usage. Whether it’s the 25% increase in median populations or the 17% increase in total population; whether it’s knowing that nearly half the districts are selecting courseware from more than one publisher as compared with just 24% last year; or whether it’s the increase in average population or the distribution of blended models, online and blended learning are firmly entrenched in California’s schools. We’re now in the period between the tipping point and critical mass where eLearning will continue to grow, evolve, and mature. CLRN is here, helping to improve online and blending courses by reporting how they meet the Common Core State Standards, California’s other content standards, AND iNACOL’s national standards for quality online courses. Our partnership with the University of California ensures that no online course will receive approval for their A-G requirements unless CLRN has reviewed and certified it. CLRN”s reviews may be found at CLRN.org.
Flipped classrooms and the Khan Academy have received national attention as teachers place classroom lectures online and change classroom pedagogy to include project-based work. You may even be thinking of creating an online or blended course yourself. After all, you’ve taught for many years and you’re a master of your curriculum and teaching craft, so those skills should benefit you in creating an online course.
Remember how, during your first year of teaching, you spent countless nights creating lesson plans and units only to throw most of them away the following summer? Remember how difficult that first year was? Multiply that times 10 and you’ll have your first year of online or blended learning. I’m not saying, “Don’t do it.” I’m saying that you should go in with both eyes wide open, following the advice I’ve shared below.
Planning Most successful projects begin with a thorough planning process that engages stakeholders, reviews research, and carves out a plan that solves a specific problem. Planning for online or blended learning is no different.
This year’s Keeping Pace < http://kpk12.com/>, an annual census report and analysis of the online and blended landscape, includes a proposed 18th month planning process with specific tasks for each phase. In the Systemic Planning stage, you bring together stakeholders and perform a needs analysis that asks: 1) What’s the problem you hope to solve? 2) What is your educational goal? 3) Who are the intended student groups? and 4) What are your district’s capabilities and desires?
That’s just the beginning, though, because before creating a solution, you also need to assess your technology infrastructure, your students’ and teachers’ technology skills, the availability of quality, standards-aligned resources, and teacher professional development.
But, assuming you’ve completed a planning process and targeted specific student groups or courses to affect, what’s next?
Probably the single largest decision is which LMS to purchase. It impacts teachers and students.
Whether you rent an existing course management system like BlackBoard or install an open source solution like Moodle or Course Builder, an LMS is a framework that contains your content, activities, and assessments, allowing you to track student progress and conduct online asynchronous and synchronous meetings. Whichever direction you choose, spend time mastering all the LMS’ components: installing curriculum, creating class rosters, embedding outside activities, and setting up discussion groups. Don’t start without an LMS, though.
Finally, we enquired about the learning management systems districts are using to host online or blended courses. While most publishers or providers provide their own LMS, we found a significant number of districts were using Edmodo, followed by Moodle or it’s variations and Haiku. Not far down the list, surprisingly, are district created learning management systems.
Probably the easiest way to begin looking for web links is through the QUICK SEARCH. The main functions of the Web Info Links Collection is accessed via a drop down menu feature on the home page.
But, assuming you’ve completed a planning process and targeted specific student groups or courses to affect, what’s next?
Normally, I’d suggest at this point a discussion about whether to build or to buy. Should you build courses from scratch (and do you have the capabilities to do so) or should you shop for quality courseware that you can pilot for a year or more?
But, you’ve already made the decision to create a lousy course, so let’s proceed.
Standards-aligned, engaging content can be purchased from a publisher, found in open source repositories, or created in-house.
With iNACOL standard A2 stating, “The course content and assignments are aligned with the state’s content standards..”, you want to make sure that the content you provide students not only teaches (demonstrates) a skill, but also provides students opportunities to practice and assess each skill or standard. CLRN’s reviews include these three components of each standard identified for a course.
Your textbook is not a course though. While textbooks are aligned with the standards and may include practice activities and assessments, placing your book online, be it commercial or open source, is amateurish at best. Quality courses will include text though, but not entire chapters printed screen after screen. The better courses CLRN have reviewed include portions of text mixed with video lecture clips, streaming video, simulations, games, and short formative assessments. Creating quality online lessons is a much more time-consuming task than creating face-to-face lessons. Provide ample lead-time to create online lessons.
Online course standard B3 states that course instruction and activities must engage students in active learning, including authentic projects and activities that challenge students beyond knowledge and comprehension. Rather than focus primarily on multiple-choice tests for assessments, it’s best to provide students knowledge work where they create, evaluate, and analyze. Students should regularly participate in online discussion groups, be they synchronous or asynchronous.
Your school built wheel chair ramps even though you may not have had any students with that need because some day a parent, student, or teacher WILL have that need. You also did it because the Federal government made you, but it was the right thing to do, yes? Of course. We want all students to have equal access to a quality education. Should that be any different with online courses? eLearning’s equivalent of a wheel chair ramp is accessible media, particularly narrated presentations and video lectures. Accessibility requirements for electronic media was confirmed by a US Department Of Justice letter to college presidents. In it, the DOJ reviewed its lawsuit against universities that had piloted the Kindle DX, which the DOJ won because the Kindle DX did not have a text to speech function. The letter states, “It is unacceptable for universities to use emerging technology without insisting that this technology be accessible to all students.” USDOJ/DOE Dear Colleague Letter On May 26, 2011, the Office of Civil Rights issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions about the Dear Colleague Letter. In it, the DOJ reminds K12 education that they too must ensure technologies are accessible to all students. USDOE, Office of Civil Rights FAQ About the June 29, 2010 Dear Colleague Letter PDF version of the FAQ See page 4, question 7. Accessibility criteria for online courses was pioneered by the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) which has created a detailed site, TxVSN Accessibility, with advice, criteria, and check lists. Here are their Accessibility Guidelines. One of CLRN’s requirements when reviewing courses is that all narrated presentations and videos include transcripts or Closed Captions. So, yes, when you’re constructing an online course, your customers, and the Office of Civil Rights, expects that course materials are accessible. There are free resources to assist you, including Universal Subtitles, which can be used to embed captions within YouTube videos. Make use of them.
All teaching and learning materials must be accessible to all students. Period. If you’re creating video lectures, streaming video clips, or providing narrated presentations, each must either have closed-captions or a transcript. Online standard D10, and the Department of Justice, expects it and your students deserve it. Sites like Universal Subtitles http://www.universalsubtitles.org/ are easy to use and allow your captioned videos to play from their site, or you may download the time codes to upload to YouTube.
Professional Development While you may feel like you’ve mastered your craft when teaching face-to-face, teaching an online or blended course requires a different skill set and mastery of different tools. In an online poll we conducted, online teachers recommended that newly converted online teachers master the following tools before beginning to create an online or blended course: 1) SlideShare < http://www.slideshare.net/> or a similar online presentation tool; 2) Collaborative meeting tools and related skills to set-up and conduct online discussions; 3) Portfolio creation tools for students to assemble examples of their authentic work; 4) Synchronous presentation skills because teaching “live” to online students offers completely different challenges and requires new solutions; and 5) Universal Subtitles for creating closed-captions.
One avenue of professional development is the Leading Edge Certification (LEC) for online teachers. The 45-hour LEC course includes units in online pedagogy, building an online community, accessibility, assessment, and preparation. Based on iNACOL’s Quality Standards for Online Teachers, LEC < http://leadingedgecertification.org/> provides an opportunity to become a highly-qualified online educator.
That there are a variety of assessments too. Find the right assessment for what is being taught.
Online and blended learning are growing quickly for a reason. These courses can help personalize learning, allowing schools to vastly expand their course catalogs, and providing students the opportunity to learn any time, any place, any path, or at any pace. We understand your eagerness to provide an online or blended option to your students. Before jumping into the water, though, we just ask that you learn to swim. Anyone can create a lousy course. It takes time, talent, and perseverance to create a great one.
Don't Create a Lousy Online or Blended Course
Don’t Create a Lousy Online
or Blended Course
California Learning Resource Network
Lousy Slides & Links
What is CLRN?
California eLearning Census
eLearning Strategies Symposium
December 6-7, 2013
Hilton, Costa Mesa
Content Standards: 80%
iNACOL Course Standards: 80%
15 Power Standards
Commercial Courses Only
Analysis of the
175courses (47%) certified
40 courses (12%) only missing captions
Most common problem
Content standards alignment
93 courses (27%)< 80% content
Range from 4% met to 78% met
So you want to create an online or
After all, you’re a master of your curriculum and
Remember Year 1?
It’s that, times 10.
A great f2f course doesn’t make a
great online/blended course
Take time to plan
“Bioelectricity: A Quantitative
300+ hours to prepare
Filmed 97 video segments with screen
22 GB of data files
MOOC Gone Bad
Coursera: Fundamentals of
Online Education: Planning and
Mass chaos & cancellation
Lessons from a MOOC
Successful group activities need:
Clear and detailed instructions.
A thorough description of the purpose
of the assignment
Access to technical tools that
effectively support group collaboration
Building a Course
Who are your customers?
What are their skills and limitations?
School & home technology access
Virtual or Blended
Which blended model?
Assess your technology infrastructure
Determine your students’ and
teachers’ technology skills
Research the availability of quality,
Determine teacher professional
Course development PD
Research standards-based content
Get Thee a Learning
Management System (LMS)
And make nice with your IT department
If you give a teacher an LMS,
She’ll want access to begin playing with it.
If she begins playing with it,
She’ll want to spend time understanding its
Once she understands the LMS’ features,
She’ll want to begin hanging content and
classes into it.
But first, she’ll need some Web. 2.0 tools.
A Textbook is
not a course
If it were, you could just throw the
kid a book and tell them to read it.
B3: The course content and
assignments are of sufficient rigor,
depth and breadth to teach the
standards being addressed. *
Develop, Practice, Assess
Your course should be
better than the worst
teacher at your school
B3: The course instruction and
activities engage students in active
Reading and watching are not
The course provides multiple opportunities
for students to be actively engaged in the
content that includes meaningful and
authentic learning experiences such as
collaborative learning groups, student‐led
review sessions, games, analysis or
reactions to videos, discussions, concept
mapping, analyzing case studies, etc
It’s about Pedagogy
How will you engage students?
What authentic projects will you use
for practice and assessment?
How will students collaborate and
participate in discussions?
Lower Order Thinking
B5. The course provides opportunities
for students to engage in higherorder thinking, critical reasoning
activities and thinking in increasingly
complex ways. *
Assignments, activities, and assessments
provide opportunities for student to
elevate their thinking beyond knowledge
and comprehension into the realm of
analyzing situations, synthesizing
information, or evaluating an argument.
Activities should include open‐ended
questions, and encourage students to
categorize and classify information.
B11. Students have access to
resources that enrich the course
D4. Rich media are provided in
multiple formats for ease of use and
access in order to address diverse
Rich Media Defined
Course makes maximum use of the
robust capabilities of the online
medium through narration,
animations, streaming content, and
Rich media is present enough to be
It doesn’t have to be about you.
There are other great lecture sources, you know.
Carefully consider what lesson parts to
Find a partner.
Address student technology access
Find a way to engage students
Don’t just talk. Ask questions. Frame discussion items.
Record your own
Streaming video publishers
What is LEC?
Highly-qualified online educator
Based on iNACOL’s National Standards for
Quality Online Teaching
Focused on how tools are implemented to
improve teaching and learning
Course + portfolio = certification
Online Learning: History & Concepts
Assessment and Evaluation
Policies and Preparation
E7. Course instructors… have been
provided professional development in the
behavioral, social, and when necessary,
emotional, aspects of the learning
E8. Course instructors…receive instructor
professional development, which includes
the support and use of a variety of
communication modes to stimulate
student engagement online.
Should Inform Instruction
B4. The course and course instructor
provide students with multiple
learning paths, based on student
needs that engage students in a
variety of ways.*
Variety is a Good Thing
There are more tools than multiple
C2. The course structure includes
adequate and appropriate methods
and procedures to assess students’
mastery of content. *
C2. Assessment types are matched
to the level of knowledge being
tested. Both formative assessments
(that inform and support learning)
and summative assessments (that
demonstrate mastery) are a part of
the course structure
C3. Ongoing, varied, and frequent
assessments are conducted
throughout the course to inform
C4. Assessment strategies and tools
make the student continuously
aware of his/her progress in class
and mastery of the content. *