Virtual Viewpoints

Virtual Viewpoints is designed to amplify the voices of those in the K-12 online/blended education sphere demonstrating the power of applicable research. Practitioners, policy makers, administrators and researchers share their stories with this growing community through brief one-on-one interviews. Listen to each episode by clicking the links below, or download them on iTunes for listening on-the-go.

 


Episode 35: Dallas Bell, Success Virtual Learning Centers
This episode is the first of a series that MVLRI is undertaking to explore the use of online learning for credit recovery here in the state of Michigan. In our first episode of the series, we’re talking with Dallas Bell, the co-founder of Success Virtual Learning Centers, originally based in Berrien Springs and Escanaba, Michigan. Dallas paints a picture for us on how at-risk students attend school through SVLC and receive both instructional and personal support in their journeys toward a high school diploma. You can learn more about SVLC by visiting their website or following them on Twitter at @SuccessVLC.

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Episode 34: Barbara Treacy, Harvard University
In this episode of Virtual Viewpoints, we’re talking with Dr. Barbara Treacy, an instructor at Harvard University and Digital Learning Consultant. Those two titles certainly don’t do justice to all the important work and service that Barbara has provided for the field of K-12 online and blended learning over her career. During our conversation, we touch on her work in providing online professional development for teachers with ETLO, serving on the Digital Learning Advisory Council for the state of Massachusetts, teaching graduate students at Harvard, and working to develop leaders in blended learning with the Friday Institute. Check out the work that we collaborated on with some of her graduate students, and follow her on Twitter at @barbaratreacy.

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Episode 33: Bi Vuong, Harvard University
In this episode, we talk with Bi Vuong, the Director of Proving Ground at Harvard University. Bi gives us some details on how she and her team provide school districts and states with rapid-cycle research services to help them tackle specific issues facing their program. We chat for a bit about the work that the Proving Ground project has done to date around educational technology software implementation, and then talk about the direction of the program going forward. Learn more about the Proving Ground project at their website, and follow Bi on Twitter at @bithivuong.

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Episode 32: Amy Valentine, Foundation for Blended and Online Learning
In this episode, we’re chatting with Amy Valentine, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning. Amy joins us to talk about all of the major initiatives that her foundation has undertaken since it launched not long ago, providing needed funding for students toward postsecondary tuition, for educators doing innovative work in their classrooms and districts, and for researchers exploring questions around blended and online learning. Learn more about the organization by visiting their website and following them on Twitter at @FoundationBOL.

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Episode 31: Keith Krueger of CoSN and Samantha Becker of NMC
In this episode, we’re joined by not one but two guests: Keith Krueger of the Consortium for School Networking and Samantha Becker of New Media Consortium. They’re both here to talk about a joint project between their two organizations called the Horizon Report, an annual initiative focused on identifying the technological trends that are driving educational change, sponsored by Share Fair Nation via a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation. During our conversation, we touch on the research process behind the report, some trends and other information called out in this year’s report, and the companion toolkit that helps K-12 leaders steer conversations around harnessing emerging technologies identified in the report.

View the report and toolkit »
Nominate yourself to serve on an upcoming Horizon expert panel »
Submit a project for potential inclusion in a future report »
You can also follow @keithkrueger, @sambeckertweets, @cosn, and @NMCorg.

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Episode 30: Michelle Rodriguez, Santa Ana Unified School District
In this episode, we get the opportunity to talk with Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, the Assistant Superintendent of K-12 Teaching and Learning at Santa Ana Unified School District in Santa Ana, California. Michelle’s district has made a commitment to innovating the educational process by focusing on personalized and competency-based learning, flexible and engaging learning environments, and effective technology integration. We talk with her about the strategies involved in deploying such an approach to personalized learning and learn what’s made them so successful. Learn more about the district by checking out their website and following them on Twitter @StanaAnaUSD.

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Episode 29: David Rose, Washington, D.C., Public Schools
In this episode, we’re talking with David Rose, the Deputy Chief of Educational Technology and Library Programs at Washington, D.C., public schools. David and I discuss how his district has been able to find success with its blended learning initiative, effectively bringing it to scale across a number of buildings in the district, and the comprehensive strategy behind continuing its success. Be sure to read more about their programs and experiences at their website, and follow @dcpublicschools and @DaveTechDC.

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Episode 28: Dr. Michael Barbour, Sacred Heart University
In this episode, we’re talking with Dr. Michael Barbour, the Director of Doctoral Studies at Sacred Heart University. Dr. Barbour has been involved in the field of online and blended learning research for over a decade, and offers us plenty of insights on how he’s observed the field grow and evolve over that time. He also brings an international perspective, having lived and conducted research in Canada for quite some time. We also talk about how researchers, practitioners, and policy makers can tweak their processes in order to better reflect what’s been demonstrated through research. Be sure to check out his blog and follow him on Twitter at @mkbshu.

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Episode 27: David Cook, Kentucky Department of Education
In this episode, we’re talking with David Cook, the Director of the Division of Innovation and Partner Engagement at the Kentucky Department of Education. David leads some exciting conversations around two very innovative programs that his division oversees: school districts of innovation and the nontraditional instruction program. Through these initiatives, Kentucky is reshaping the way we think about how to educate students. You can read more about these programs and the work of the Division of Innovation and Partner Engagement at their website, and keep up to date with the work of the state department by following their Twitter account at @KDeptofEd.

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Episode 26: John Watson, Evergreen Education
In this episode, we’re talking with John Watson, the founder and head of the Evergreen Education Group. John and his organization are well-known within the field for producing their annual Keeping Pace report, which examines trends in policy and practice in online and blended learning in all 50 states. John and I talk about how his report has changed and evolved over the years to reflect the constantly changing landscape in K-12 digital learning, and touch on some of the exciting changes in the report’s structure for future editions. You can find all of Evergreen’s research reports and their blog at http://www.kpk12.com/, and follow them on Twitter at @KeepingPacek12.

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Episode 25: Jim Rickabaugh, Institute for Personalized Learning
In this episode, we are talking with Dr. Jim Rickabaugh, the Director of the Institute for Personalized Learning in Wisconsin. Jim brings a ton of experience and lots of insights to his current role, and his organization is taking on the ambitious goal of helping schools redesign their models to put learners at the center of the picture. Be sure to check out their work at their website, their honeycomb model, and the working paper observing their work by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Jim’s books can also be found here and here. You can find Jim on Twitter at @drrickabaugh and the Institute at @Institute4PL.

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Episode 24: Mary Ann Wolf, Friday Institute for Educational Innovation
In this episode, we’re talking with Mary Ann Wolf, the Director of Digital Learning Programs at the Friday Institute at North Carolina State University. We talk about a number of exciting initiatives that Mary Ann oversees and contributes to, including the digital learning plan for the entire state of North Carolina, efforts to increase capacity around blended learning leadership and ways to rethink professional development approaches for digital learning implementation. Learn more about the Institute’s work on their website, check out their MOOC initiative, read up on North Carolina’s Digital Learning Plan, read their latest paper on micro-credentials. Also be sure to follow Mary Ann and the Institute on Twitter at @maryannwolfed and @FridayInstitute, respectively.

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Episode 23: Grace Magley, Director of Online Learning at Natick Public Schools in Natick, Mass.
This episode's guest is Grace Magley, the Director of Online Learning at Natick Public Schools in Natick, Mass. Grace wears a number of different hats when it comes to administering and promoting high quality online and blended models in Massachusetts. We talk a bit about how she’s able to work with so many educators in her district to control for high quality online content and develop effective teaching strategies, as well as helping to change the leadership mindset around the state when it comes to possibilities of online and blended learning. Be sure to follow Grace on Twitter at @gmagley, check out the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators website, as well as all the initiatives being undertaken by BlendinMass.

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Episode 22: Denise Airola, Office of Innovation for Education, University of Arkansas
In this episode, we talk with Denise Airola, the Director of the Office of Innovation for Education at the University of Arkansas. Denise and her team are incredibly knowledgeable around how schools can be flexible and innovative to try to better face challenges in their own contexts and meet the needs of the students they face. We talk about policy factors that influence how schools embrace innovation and what sorts of targeted supports her office can offer those who looking to do things a little different in their own educational environment. Learn more about her work by checking out the OIE’s website and following them on Twitter at @InnoEdOIE.

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Episode 21: Kristin Fontichiaro, University of Michigan
In this episode, we’re chatting with Kristin Fontichiaro, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Information at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Kristin and I spend some time talking about a current project of hers that is focused on building student capacity to interpret data and statistics. She worked with librarians throughout the state of Michigan to develop and implement professional development modules for that effort. We also chat about another passion of hers, makerspaces, and how they can be used to engage learners in creative and stimulating ways. Learn more about the Michigan Makers project by visiting their website, and you can follow Kristin on Twitter at @activelearning.

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Episode 20: Dave Lefkowith, Louisiana Department of Education
In this episode, we have an an engaging conversation with Dave Lefkowtith, perhaps better known as Lefty, of the Louisiana Department of Education. As the Assistant Superintendent at the LADOE, Lefty worked on the launch and oversight of that state’s course choice program. During our conversation, we get a good sense of the political context in which the program was formed, and how the program changed over time to reflect different objectives. We also get into some of the program’s detailed specifics and look at how it might be expanded and improved going forward. You can see Louisiana’s course choice catalog at lacourses.net, read more about the program at louisanabelieves.com and reach Lefty personally at lefty@la.gov.

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Episode 19: Competency-based education
In this episode, we chat with Rose Colby, who is involved in a number of different initiatives at the state and national level concerning competency-based education. We ask Rose exactly what people mean when they’re discussing competency-based education, and how a shift to such a model can take place with the facilitation of technology. We also chat briefly about an exciting pilot project in New Hampshire aimed at assessing competency-based learning systems and how such a project might shape the movement going forward. Be sure to read more about the PACE program, take a look at Rose’s book, and follow her on Twitter at @rose_rosecolby.

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Episode 18: Christine Fox of SETDA Returns
Our guest for this episode is actually a returning guest: Christine Fox, Director of Educational Leadership and Research of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, or SETDA. Christine shares with us some great new resources exploring the shift in different states to digital instructional materials, and we talk about how the project was conceived and what its goals are. You can view the paper, Navigating the Digital Shift, and its accompanying resources at http://www.setda.org/priorities/digital-content/navigating-the-shift. You can also follow Christine’s and SETDA’s work on Twitter at @cafox and @SETDA.

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Episode 17: Year-End Review With MyBlend
In this episode, we sit down with Jeff Gerlach of MyBlend to reflect on a year of podcasting, sharing our insights, listening to clips from some previous episodes and highlighting some of the biggest takeaways we've gained from our respective podcast projects. (Song credits: http://ccmixter.org/files/Benjamin_Orth/30523, http://ccmixter.org/files/VJ_Memes/40622)

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Episode 16: Saro Mohammed
Our guest for this episode is Saro Mohammed, a partner at the Learning Accelerator. The Learning Accelerator, or TLA, works directly with school districts and states to develop implementation strategies for blended learning, doing so with a focus on conducting and disseminating rigorous research to support their work. Saro talks with us about efforts to measure blended learning to determine if, when and how blended learning is effective in achieving its goals, and shares some insights on how that measurement takes place. Follow Saro on Twitter at @EdResearchWorks, and learn more about TLA’s initiatives at http://learningaccelerator.org/.

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Episode 15: Joel Rose
This episode's guest is Joel Rose, the Co-Founder and CEO of New Classrooms Innovation Partners. Joel and his team at New Classrooms are striving to implement personalized learning models in schools across the U.S. Joel delves into what the New Classrooms model – called Teach-to-One – entails, and paints a picture for us, describing the flow and process in a teach-to-one school. You can read more about New Classrooms at http://www.newclassrooms.org/, read some of the research we mention here and follow Joel on Twitter at @NCJoelRose.

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Episode 14: Julia Freeland Fisher
Our guest for this episode is Julia Freeland Fisher, Director of Education at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. Julia and I discuss some of her recent work focusing on helping close the gap between what educational technology firms provide and what tech-forward school systems need, as well as her work around digital learning’s capacity to help students build social capital through the development of personal networks. Lastly, we discuss some of the overlap, or lack thereof, in the philosophies behind blended and competency-based learning (which Julia touches on a bit in this webinar she presented for EdTech Specialists, a Michigan-based consulting group). You can follow Julia on Twitter at @juliafreeland, as well as the Christensen Institute at @ChristensenInst, and read about all the Institute’s work on their website at http://www.christenseninstitute.org.

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Episode 13: Beatriz Arnillas
Our guest for this episode is Beatriz Arnillas, the Director of IT and Education Technology at the Houston Independent School District in Houston, Texas. Beatriz provides some insight into what it’s like to run the technological infrastructure, as well as the efforts of instructional technology integration and digital learning initiatives, in the seventh largest school district in the United States. She also shares with us her story of discovering the importance of interoperability when it comes to digital learning, and her efforts to ensure ease of use for practitioners in her district through interoperability standards. You can read the white paper that Beatriz mentioned here, read her EdSurge piece here and follow her on Twitter @barnillas.

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Episode 12: Paul Curtis
Our guest for this episode is Paul Curtis, the Director of Curriculum for the New Tech Network. Paul touches on some of the history of the organization, one that has been around for a surprisingly long time, and shares a bit about what makes the curriculum of New Tech schools stand out. We also talk some about the research that influences the New Tech model, as well as the organizations efforts to help bring out systems change when it comes to thinking about the educational process. We encourage you to learn more about the organization by visiting www.newtechnetwork.org, as well as reading their recently released 2015 Student Outcomes Report.

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Episode 11: Sarah Luchs
Our guest for this episode is Sarah Luchs of NGLC, Next Generation Learning Challenges. NGLC is a challenge grant strategy initiative of Educause, dedicated to accelerating educational innovation through applied technology and improving college readiness in students across the United States. Sarah provides an overview of some of the exciting work that their grant recipients are doing to advance personalized learning through the use of technology. To learn more about some of the initiatives we discussed, visit www.nextgenlearning.org or follow @nextgenlc or @sarahluchs1 on Twitter.

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Episode 10: Kate Loughrey
In this episode, we talk with Kate Loughrey, who is the statewide Texas Virtual School Network Coordinator. Kate gives us a very detailed picture of the ins and outs of the Texas course choice program, and we talk a little about the work that still lies ahead for the program to realize its full potential.

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Episode 9: Tom Driscoll
In this episode, we’re talking with Tom Driscoll a high school social studies teacher and instructional technology consultant based in Connecticut. Tom is on a mission to better and more efficiently serve his students through the use of flipped learning and competency-based education practices. The combination of these two strategies has come to be known as “flipped mastery,” and it’s clear that Tom sees this methodology as a way for him to innovate and fundamentally change his interactions with students. Tom discusses the unique challenges that are presented when trying to implement such a bold and innovative initiative, and touches on the rewards of overcoming those challenges. Be sure to check out his blog on flipped mastery at www.flipped-history.com.

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Episode 8: Christine Fox
In this episode, we talk with Christine Fox, the Director of Educational Leadership and Research for SETDA. Christine and her team face a lot of challenges in a constantly changing setting, as the policy landscape is always shifting in each state where her member constituents reside. Being able to support their diverse needs is a big priority for SETDA. On the research side, she works closely with the state leader membership as well as district leaders for large data collection efforts and to find out what sorts of needs administrators and practitioners are facing in the area of technology. You can find the Guide to Implementing Digital Learning, which we talk about briefly in the interview, at digitallearning.setda.org/.

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Episode 7: Jeff Renard
In this episode, we chat with Jeff Renard, Director of Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative. We gained quite a bit of insight as to how virtual learning is structured in Vermont public schools, and heard about some of the unique challenges that VTVLC faces given the small size and rural nature of many of its schools. Jeff also shares about some of the other initiatives of the VTVLC including its focus on professional development through workshops and its annual conference.

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Episode 6: Cathy Cavanaugh
In this episode, we chat with Cathy Cavanaugh, Director of Teaching and Learning at Microsoft Worldwide Education. Dr. Cavanaugh provides us with a glimpse of some of the exciting research that’s being done at Microsoft, including the examination of leaders and leadership traits in the education world, as well as the advancements in data analysis that are empowering everyone from practitioners to policymakers when it comes to education.

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Episode 5: Michelle Licata
Our guest is Michelle Licata, Global Curriculum Coordinator for FLVS Global. Michelle’s work is focused upon engaging educators and administrators in training and conversations about appropriate use of digital technologies to meet specific learning goals. She shares with us her touching and personal story of how she came to work in this field and how providing equal opportunity and care to all students drives her work.

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Episode 4: Aubrey Francisco
In this episode, we chat with Aubrey Francisco, Director of Research at Digital Promise. Digital Promise is involved in a number of different projects aimed at improving the opportunity to learn for all Americans, children and adults, through technology and research. Their initiatives are designed to empower educators to use technology to personalize learning, inform developers with key education research findings, and help researchers produce results that are readily accessible and consumable for all along the education spectrum. Aubrey was kind enough to sit down with us to talk about a number of Digital Promise initiatives and share her vision on where educational innovation through technology can lead us.

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Episode 3: Christina Jean
Christina Jean, Innovation and Blended Learning Specialist with the Colorado Department of Education’s Office of Blended and Online Learning, is our guest in Episode 3. The work of the Office of Blended and Online Learning involves supporting the responsible growth of online and blended learning throughout the state by providing pertinent information and data to various schools, programs, students, parents and other stakeholders, helping them shape policy and practice. Christina was kind enough to sit down with us and talk about some the systemic shifts that she is witnessing in her state in regard to personalized learning and competency-based education.

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Episode 2: Shawn Rubin
We sit down with Shawn Rubin, the Director of Blended Learning for the Highlander Institute, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit organization providing professional development and other educational services across a variety of areas. Shawn has a wealth of experience in integrating technology into instruction and harnessing its capabilities to do a better and smarter job of educating students.

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Episode 1: Dr. Tracy Weeks
Dr. Tracy Weeks, Chief Academic and Digital Learning Officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, shares stories about her past experiences in the field, the work she’s currently doing at the state level, and her vision for the future of digital learning in North Carolina.

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