Sunday, January 3, 2010

Open Source Charter Schools

It was only a matter of time before a virtual high school went open source. Open High School in Utah is breaking new ground by using a mash up of materials to give kids what they really need in class. They can take the best problem set, best explanations, add their own thoughts and create a truly customized course. It is yet another example of creating more studentcentric learning.

This is a group that is fully leveraging technology including BrainHoney which allows incredible, low-cost learning management systems. With no building and no texts, two huge costs are eliminated from the charter school budget making it much easier to devote more towards educating students.

I have met the team from Open High and they are passionate about students and understand that technology can really make the difference in student success. Keep an eye on this project - it will take off!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Virtual Recap

Scholarity has moved forward in the virtual learning world at a rapid pace this year. We have had a lot of great meetings, began the launch of our first test preparation product in India and are poised to launch even more products in 2010. We continue to expand and refine the website based on your input and recently added more on how the Scholarity education software can help math students.

This new decade will bring even more rapid changes to education. As education organizations have to find more inexpensive ways to teach students with an incredibly wide variation in knowledge and skills we know that we will be a big part of the solution.

We are looking forward to the challenge.

Have a great New Year from the Scholarity Team!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Algebra Homework Help

Scholarity is moving rapidly towards launching a homework helper for Algebra students which is pretty exciting news. As a parent one of the most frustrating things to me was that the textbook didn't have enough practice problems to really help students get comfortable wtih the material and even if there was, there was no way to see if students were on track with the problem.

The Scholarity homework helper will have some great practice problems and help on every step of the algebra problem - not just a righ or wrong answer at the bottom - but actual help throughout.

Stay tuned as we hope to have this launched in late February!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Education Technology Progress

A pretty amazing week at Scholarity as we begin to see some amazing responses to the education technology platform we have built. We already have a partnership with an Indian test preparation provider and have two more partnerships close to moving forward. This will allow us to allow people to see a better demonstration of the power that dynamic insight technology can bring to a curriculum.

We will keep you posted!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Online practice improves teaching

ABCTE is finding that in order to improve their program they should have all of potential teachers teach an online lesson in their subject area. This would help reinforce the subject matter, help others that might be struggling with that subject matter and give teachers some experience with online teaching. Just as all teachers now have some experience with ELL, special needs and gifted students, they will all soon have to teach a virtual class.

Now it turns out there is some research that says this is the right path according to the Chronicle of Higher Ed story: Learning from Online. Researchers at Purdue University at Calumet believe that learning how to do distance education properly can make professors better at designing and administering their classroom-based courses. It really reinforces what they are working towards.

From the article:
“Since most professors have spent their lives holding forth from the front of a lecture hall, many have not had to engineer their lesson plans with the sort of rigor required of a well-designed online course, Buckenmeyer says.When teaching online, she says, “You have to pay more attention to the navigation of the course, the clarity of the course, the objectives of the course, the reason why you’re assigning activities and assessments, [and make] certain everything is perfectly clear to the students. In a face-to-face situation, you can get by with just coming in and not having prepared and winging a class session. You can’t do that online.”

Teaching in the virtual world not only does prepares teachers for hybrid schools of the future, but will make them better teachers in a brick and mortar classroom as well.

Monday, December 14, 2009


In addition to staff training on Tribes last week I spent a lot of time with the ABCTE team discussing FREE: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson who also wrote The Long Tail (Free ironically cost me $26.99 at the book store). The important premise for Scholarity is that digital content will all be free at some point. Companies that survive will find alternative ways to make money. It dovetails nicely with Liberating Learning by Chubb and Moe which claims that publishers will no longer be able to charge for digital content but will have to find ways to help students learn in order to make money. The winners will win on content delivery - not the content.

The demand for inexpensive digital content for education or for wiki-like education materials is going to radically change the dynamics of the education publishing business. It will take cutting edge concepts of digital delivery to create a new revenue stream for those who are really paying attention.

Free education content is already here and rapidly taking over the industry. It remains to be seen as to which publishers can survive the onslaught.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Student Customization

I was fortunate enough to attend AEI's Education Entrepreneurship conference this week. It was fortunate because it reinforces the need for more technology to create truly customized learning for every student. This has become the mantra of education reform as of late. If we don't customize and fully leverage technology, we cannot hope to advance. If you watch the conference video you will see this as a prevailing theme from many of the speakers.

And Scholarity has that customization ready - we just need some great content.

We already have a parnter in India to create customized test preparation and we are presenting like crazy here in the states to other content providers who understand this need. After the AEI conference, we have even more opportunities coming our way.

It always takes time, but customized learning is coming to students - and coming fast.