LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVES: THE RAPID GROWTH OF K-12 ONLINE LEARNING

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1 LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVES: THE RAPID GROWTH OF K-12 ONLINE LEARNING Lancaster (2012) & WERA December, 2012

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3 PRESENT FROM TWO CLOSELY RELATED RESEARCH PROJECTS Lancaster s (2012) autoethnography describes, analyzes and interprets one leader s experience in leading an instructional focus on student learning and a group of online teachers in one of Washington s oldest and most successful online programs. Malone s (2012) mixed-methods study examines perceptions, interpretations and reactions of K-12 superintendents in Washington in response to the rapid growth of online learning. The findings provide intriguing insight into the current landscape of K-12 online learning. SESSION OBJECTIVE

4 Rapid growth of online learning Legislation focus on metrics, not learning Lack of quality control standards Competition not collaboration 3 rd party vendor involvement Lack of research on effectiveness CONTEXT

5 Washington State Superintendents and K-12 Online Learning: Leadership Perceptions, Challenges, & Opportunities MALONE (2012)

6 Q1 What are the issues that impede or support the implementation of online learning as perceived by Washington superintendents? Q2 What do Washington superintendents identify as the purposes for online learning? Q3 What recommendations do Washington superintendents suggest for successful implementation of online learning? Q4 How does district size, years of experience, and online status affect superintendent perceptions of the online learning environment? RESEARCH QUESTIONS

7 Mixed Methods Study ~ Online Survey 39 Closed & 5 Open-ended Survey Items Quantitative Analysis: Descriptive Statistics Pearson s Correlation Coefficient Qualitative Analysis: Constant Comparative Method METHODOLOGY

8 Innovation ~ Recommendations Leadership ~ Purposes Change ~ Issues Leadership Online Learning Innovation Change Disruptive Innovation THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

9 # of Superintendents Responding to Survey % Total Respondents RESPONDENTS

10 % of Respondents by District Size 13% 9% Less than 100 students students 11% 14% 22% 501 1,000 students 1,001 2,500 students 2,501 5,000 students 17% 14% 5,001 10,000 students 10,000+ students RESPONDENTS

11 % of Respondents by Experience 18% 24% 33% 25% 0-3 years 4-7 years 8-11 years 12+ years RESPONDENTS

12 % of Respondents by Online Status 19% 65% 16% Not offering Considering Currently offering RESPONDENTS

13 Q1 ISSUES: FINANCIAL We provide online learning to students. 50 are from our own district. The others from across the state. We could not offer either without the other. We need to break even... and we still lose money compared to bricks and mortar schools. I am very skeptical of the motives of private companies and some school districts' purposes. While it is not likely generalizable, my perception is that in some instances there is more interest in making money than with teaching and learning. I am deeply troubled by districts using online learning to make money. The motives are overwhelmingly financial. It is clearly a method for school districts to add additional funds to the district. School districts in Washington State have used this process, knowingly, to pirate students from districts. With declining resources how can we possibly allocate funds that we don't have to researching these opportunities. They are important but we are just trying to survive right now!

14 Q1 ISSUES: QUALITY The harm to local districts comes when the parents get sick of babysitting and send the student back to the home district and we have to pick up the loss of academic gains. Students are unsuccessful in online schools and then public school has to clean the mess up. I have issue with the quality of some of the programs, since these students often end up back in our system with inadequate skills. We find that students that come back to us from an online program have significant deficits in their learning. I worry that online programs that may be legally sufficient are not necessarily quality programs that provide an alternative pathway for student success, but they do provide dollars to a district. I have never heard, in my experience, whether or not these programs make an impact on student learning.

15 Q1 ISSUES: REGULATION Living in the midst of school districts trying to push the limits of the new laws to bring in FTE, I am a bit jaded at this point. Online programs have to be regulated to weed out the money grabbers from the legitimate educators. The ever-changing funding for ALE makes investment risky. The idea that some schools profit from online courses with FTE, and that other school loose FTE is difficult. State agencies need to work together to remove road blocks to online learning. The state taking away 20% of the funding and opening their own online competition is definitely an issue!

16 Q1 ISSUES Disagree Agree Manage Records 33. Trained Teachers 30. Adequate Computers 29. Gain Support Best for 6th 12th grade 22. Tech Skills Needed 24. Isolates Students 31. Create Policy Limits 26. Detracts from Community Teacher/Student Interactions Void of Diversity Issues 16. Increased Inequities 17. Financial Burden on Schools Diminishes Parent Invlvmt 25. Easy to Pass Financial Burden on Parents 1.95

17 Q2 PURPOSES: FLEXIBILITY Scheduling Flexibility (M=3.23) The purpose of online learning is to provide flexible opportunities for students in a system that is traditionally not flexible. Online Learning allows us to provide students with an opportunity to fulfill graduation requirements when they need to accrue credits. It gives students options and opportunities in a variety of situations young students get themselves into.

18 Q2 PURPOSES: INDIVIDUALIZATION Meeting Individual Student Needs (M=3.13) Not all students learn the same way. Online learning gives those students an opportunity for an education who may not be able to attend a brick and mortar school for specific reasons. Online learning seems best suited to meeting unique, individual needs rather than serving large numbers of students.

19 Q2 PURPOSES: OPTIONS Expanding Course Options (M=3.11) Online learning is a tool used in creating a continuum of services to meet the mission of ensuring the learning of all our children, not a whipping post for legislators and short sighted educators who may be afraid of change. The purpose is to provide a wider variety of opportunities for students to take courses. It is beneficial to have a variety of choices for students to engage in high quality learning environments.

20 Q2 PURPOSES: CONCERNS I do not believe the purposes of online learning align with the practice. I believe districts rip off the system and have lost site of the purpose. There is a considerable gap between the stated potential for online learning and its actual implementation, which is profit-driven.

21 Q2 PURPOSES Disagree Agree Flexible Learning 10. Homebound Students 4. Offer Unavailable Courses Advanced Placement Selection 11. Special Needs 5. Avoid Scheduling Conflict 8. Individualized Instruction 12. Home School 14. Develops Tech Skills Solution to Teacher Shortage 9. Provide Financial Resources

22 Q3 RECOMMENDATIONS: BLENDING Face-to-face contact remains critical to maintaining an effective and sustained online learning program. Traditional and online learning together produce the best results. Strong face-to-face student-to-teacher relationships and interactions are essential as the mainstay of K-12 education. Teachers are still an important component of online learning. The human connection is critical. Online learning and blended classrooms are the future of education. We as educators must have the vision to allow these programs in our existing schools to support and enhance our more traditional academic programs.

23 Q3 RECOMMENDATIONS: INDIVIDUALIZATION Online learning provides an opportunity for students who do not fit in the traditional classroom setting. I am very satisfied to have online learning available to the few learners who need the option but not on a widespread basis. Online learning should continue to be very limited to meet unique needs of individual students but not a replacement for the strong and good work being done with face-to-face instruction in schools.

24 Q3 RECOMMENDATIONS: REGULATIONS OSPI needs to create reasonable reporting requirements and funding formulas. Regulate the funding of online learning very carefully from OSPI. Make an effort to limit abuse from revenue generating interests. Provide via statewide model so districts are not competing for students. Online programs, if offered to the public, should be offered and controlled 100% by OSPI. Develop stronger policies that discourage fly-by-night providers that create a churn in student enrollments for profit. Vetted courses should be made available at no cost to districts, funded by the state, so that access to educational services does not become even more inequitable.

25 Q3 RECOMMENDATIONS: EXAMINATION Good grief, how many more hours should a young person spend in a virtual versus actual experience? Online programs exacerbate the problems of regular schools, rather than solve them. In general, online learning is not a meaningful learning experience. We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand on this issue. Technology will continue to infuse itself into education; we can embrace it or get choked by it. The decision to offer online programming should be based on student need, not the administrative prejudices or limitations of the adults in the system. We are all convinced that the breakthrough strategy for improving the quality of instruction that students receive, and for improving the quality of professional learning for teachers, is the meaningful collaboration of teachers who share students and content. This is not a feature of online instruction, and in fact online programs are a step backward toward isolation of practice and norms of autonomy vs. the norms of collaboration we have been working to establish.

26 Q4 DEMOGRAPHIC AFFECT FACTORS Experience District Size Online Status

27 Q4 DEMOGRAPHIC: EXPERIENCE 3.1 Agree 2.9 Superintendent Perceptions by Experience ALE FA IO 21 Disagree LC years 4-7 years 8-11 years 12+ years 1.73

28 Q4 DEMOGRAPHIC: DISTRICT SIZE 3.3 Superintendent Perceptions by District Size Agree ALE FA IO 21 LC Disagree <

29 Q4 DEMOGRAPHIC: ONLINE STATUS Superintendent Perception by Online Status 3.1 Agree ALE FA IO Disagree LC Not Offering Considering Currently Offering

30 Leading Online: An Autoethnography Focused on Leading an Instructional Focus on Student Learning in an Online School LANCASTER (2012)

31 Q1 What characteristics of an online learning environment trigger teachers to focus on management issues rather than learning issues? Q2 What conditions might be in place to help teachers manage their online workload effectively so they can shift discussions from management and metrics to student-centered learning? Q3 What leadership behaviors need to be undertaken to inspire a culture of support to engage teachers in analyzing the teaching and learning process in the online classroom? RESEARCH QUESTIONS Lancaster (2012)

32 Autoethnography Better understand the story behind the data Analytic Autoethnography Emphasis not about self; rather it is about searching for understanding of culture and/or society through self (Anderson, 2006) METHODOLOGY Lancaster (2012)

33 SOCIO-TECHNICAL THEORY Changes in technology bring about changes in values, cognitive structures, life styles habits and communication which profoundly alter a society and its chances of survival (Trist, 1981) THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK Lancaster (2012)

34 Infrastructure Learning management system (LMS) Technology support Governance Compliance Policy Promotion Teaching and learning Course planning and design Formative and summative assessment Management Management for compliance Communication Issue resolution THEMES Lancaster (2012)

35 Q1 What characteristics trigger teachers to focus on management issues? Infrastructure: LMS Teaching and Learning: Course planning and design (management) Governance: Political systems driven by financial need and accountability, metrics about money Promotion: Important due to policy Management: Required by policy and technology Lancaster (2012)

36 Q2 What conditions help teachers manage their online workload effectively and shift from management to student-centered learning? Infrastructure: Technology manages, teachers teach Governance: Performance based measures for compliance, clear measures for student success Clarity of course layout and design: Guidelines about modifying and restructuring Management: Clear tracking tools, integration of LMS with SIS Lancaster (2012)

37 Q3 What leadership behaviors need to be undertaken to inspire a culture of support to engage teachers in analyzing the teaching and learning process in the online classroom? Clear consistent message, clear definition of program, roles, responsibilities that is consistent among all stakeholders Structure professional conversations around learning metrics Provide pressure relief when needed Remove barriers from teachers role such as funding, infrastructure and formatting Lancaster (2012)

38 SOCIO-TECHNICAL Increased time for student Efficient technology Lancaster (2012)

39 Governance Regulations Financial Management Quality Concerns Flexibility Teaching & Learning Blending Individualization Infrastructure -Lancaster (2012) - Common Themes

40 Lancaster (2012) Guided by a clear vision and compelling purpose Facilitate processes for teachers to come together to discuss student learning Provide human contact and daily checks with students Learning not technology should be the driver Regional Adaptive Dialogic Work Statewide Superintendent Forums Accountability Legislation Blended Online Learning Common Core Standard Alignment Recommendations

41 GO COUGS!

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