Friday, November 21, 2008

Idaho Forum on Virtual Education

We had a strong turn-out last night for the first public Idaho Forum on Virtual Education. Many thanks to Diane Demerest, Executive Director for the Idaho Charter School Network, for her commitment to organizing such a powerful venue!

State Superintendent of Instruction, Tom Luna, opened the event with his support for school choice, especially via virtual education. Recently, Idaho was ranked third in the country for policies and practice in K-20 Online Education by the Center for Digital Education. Much of that ranking was due to this man's efforts and vision.

John Watson of Evergreen Associates was the keynote speaker, giving interesting highlights from his annual Keeping Pace report, which tracks growth in K-12 online programs (both state sponsored supplemental programs, and full-time K-12 online programs typically funded through private corporations). Over 42 states in the country currently offer one or both of these types of online learning for their kids.

Next up came a panel of state leaders (I was honored to be included on the panel) discussing where we are going with K12 virtual education. Tom Luna and John Watson rejoined us, along with Senator Russ Fulcher, Charter School Commissioner Alan Reed, and myself.

Here's a recording of the forum. Perhaps the most powerful portion of the evening came when a student panel, consisting of kids and a teacher from several virtual schools, shared their views about why online learning options were important to them. After listening to them present, I would dare anyone to disagree that online learning shouldn't be an option made available for ALL kids.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cool new graduate elective!

OK this falls in the category of "cool news!" The Dept. of EDTECH at BSU does it again for spring 2009.

NEW ONLINE ELECTIVE! EDTECH 597: Augmented Reality Curricular Design (special hardware required; course hosted in Blackboard)
Dr. Patrick O'Shea, Harvard University, is designing and teaching this cutting-edge special topics course. AR is an effort to merge physical and virtual environments to the benefit of students. This course will include discussion of the theory behind AR and will include the development of individual AR curricula. Students will storyboard a central storyline for their AR curriculum, design characters and objects to include in their curriculum, produce media elements to represent these characters and objects, and produce the interactive AR instructional module. Learn more about Dr. O'Shea's HARP Project at
Required Hardware/Software: Handheld Computer running Windows Mobile Operating System, PC running Microsoft OS
Required Prerequisite Skills: No required skills, but familiarity with web design and video editing would be beneficial.

Contact Jerry Foster at for registration information.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Moving forward on the EdD in EDTECH

Great news--we've received permission to move forward with planning of our online EdD program in EDTECH! Our goal is to launch the program by fall 2010. I'm hesitant to announce it here, as we begin to get a lot of interested students wanting to know if they can take courses NOW that will apply THEN. Although I'd love to say yes, in reality, we can't count our chickens before they are hatched.

There are many levels of approval before a doctoral program launches. The program has to be reviewed within a university, and once that's done, it goes out for external review before being submitted to the State Board of Education for approval! The process can get bogged down or suspended at any point along the line, so from a student's perspective, it's not wise to take coursework now anticipating something that may not be there when they need it.

Now, having all the disclaimers out of the way, let me say I'm VERY excited to begin re-visioning our program. I say re-vision, because we actually outlined a doctoral program two years ago. A lot has changed in two years--we are a larger department, with more faculty, more courses, and a little more experience and understanding about where we want to head as a program. We've been encouraged to align our work to the Carnegie Foundation's Initiative on the Doctorate. Excellent! I'm looking forward to working with our team of faculty and staff to reflect on notions of excellence in doctoral education, especially as they apply to a program that likes to focus on emergent technologies for teaching and learning.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm baaaack....with EDTECH Island!

Well, it's been 2 years, and I rediscovered my blog! Wow, a lot can happen in two years. No doubt, the most interesting thing I've been doing is building EDTECH Island in Second Life. What started as an experiment to run an online graduate course in Educational Games & Simulations has turned into a virtual world community with over 1,000 members, guest speaker events, and hosting numerous courses on the island. Ooops, I didn't even mention the great residents who've taken up living in our condos! Seriously, if you have yet to venture into virtual worlds, check out And for those of you who have participated in our work there, thanks for everything you've done to contribute to who we are!