Where are the comments?


If you have tried to make a comment on a post here at Serendipity35 lately, you will have found that they are turned off. After an attack months ago that left us with many thousands of spam comments, Tim turned off the commenting feature. If you try to comment, it will reject it.

That is a sad thing because, although we didn't get all that many comments considering the number of hits the site gets, it was good to read them.

I still love to look at the recent visitors widget on the site and see where people are coming from who are reading my posts. It is very international. (So were all the spambots.)

I also know that some readers have gone to the trouble of doing a search to find me on LinkedIn, twitter or other places and contacted me.

So, this is just to say that it's not that we don't want to hear from you. We just can't deal with the spam right now. If a better software solution becomes available, we'll hear from you again in the future.

Oregon State U To Offer MOOC for K-12 Educators

Oregon State University (OSU) will launch a massive open online course (MOOC) for K-12 educators this fall in partnership with Stanford University and the Oregon Department of Education.

The course, "Supporting English Language Learners under New Standards," will begin on October 1 and run for eight weeks. According to the university, it's intended to help K-12 teachers support English language learners, and it will focus on how English language learners construct claims supported by evidence, which is a key practice in both the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards.

The course is open to teachers from around the world but may be of particular interest to those from the 11-state ELPA21 consortium, which is developing an assessment system based on the ELP Standards...

Read more at http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/06/17/oregon-state-u-offers-mooc-for-k12-educators.aspx

EDU Learning Apps


edu-apps.org is an open collection of learning apps that can be used in your classes.

The apps are built on LTI which is "like Facebook apps or Google widgets, but interoperable between lots of edu tools. Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI)® is a specification developed by IMS Global Learning Consortium. The principal concept of LTI is to establish a standard way of integrating rich learning applications (often remotely hosted and provided through third-party services) with platforms like learning management systems, portals, or other educational environments. In LTI these learning applications are called Tools (delivered by Tool Providers) and the LMS, or platforms, are called Tool Consumers." 

The edu-apps site is run by Instructure and its contents are available on GitHub under the MIT license. The official IMS LTI site is available here. The tools listed should work in most systems.

Starbucks Scholarships and Nanodegrees

Starbucks got a lot of attention this past week for their new scholarship partnership with Arizona State University. More details have come out about the limits of the financial contribution Starbucks is making and what discount ASU Online is providing.

ASU is joining with Starbucks to offer an extraordinary new program, called the Starbucks College Acheivement Plan (CAP), to all of their full- and part-time partners of every brand, who are employed within the United States, the chance to finish a bachelor’s degree with full tuition coverage through ASU’s top-ranked degree program, delivered online.

It sounds like a good thing for Starbucks employees, but I think the real story is that this is a fully online program. Participating CAP students will be offered the same curricula as ASU online students, which is the same content taught on campus by the same faculty.

Obviously, using one school online is simpler than allowing students to pick local colleges or connecting with community colleges in every state. But we know that online learning is not a good fit for every student. I wonder if Starbucks or ASU is planning on any screening or prior assessments for students to see if online work is a good fit?

Udacity, the MOOC provider, has worked with industry partners to produce courses. They have announced that a partnerships with AT&T, and an initial funding from AT&T Aspire of more than $1.5 million, launched nanodegrees. Those are compact, flexible, and job-focused credentials that are stackable throughout a career. Students in a nanodegree program select hands-on courses by industry, a capstone project, and career guidance. You can get a nanodegree and earn new ones throughout your career.

Common Core Standards in Higher Education

I have mentioned before that I don't see very much interest in higher education for the Common Core State Standards, the controversial state-based educational-standards system that is impacting K-12 education. I did come across an article from The Chronicle titled "College Leaders Sign On to Support Common Core Educational Standards" that discusses how 200+ higher-education leaders have created an organization to voice support for Common Core. Thirty states are represented by mostly administrators at public colleges and universities.

The Common Core standards were designed in 2009 and adopted in the next two years by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The Standards have support from the Obama administration but Governors Fallin (R - Oklahoma) and Haley (R - South Carolina) recently signed laws ending adoption of the reforms in their states and Indiana’s Board of Education formally abandoned the benchmarks in late April.

If all this Common Core sounds more political than educational, then you are thinking what many educators are saying. Much of the Common Core conversations that get media coverage come from meetings like that of the National Association of System Heads, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities - places where discussion on the Higher Ed for Higher Standards was also conceived.

Common Core opponents would also point out that the new coalition is a project of the Collaborative for Student Success, which receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which has been a promoter of the Common Core.

According to the Chronicle article:

But public colleges and universities face their own challenges with Common Core integration. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Education Policy at George Washington University, education agencies in 16 states reported that working with public colleges to enact Common Core standards posed a "major" challenge. Published in September, the survey also found that public colleges in 27 states were having difficulty adapting teacher-training programs to the benchmarks. State education agencies also reported that colleges in 18 states were resisting the reforms in other ways.