Monday, August 1, 2011

The New Digital Divide


Every one of us gets through the tough times because somebody is there, standing in the gap to close it for us.
- Oprah Winfrey
While 73% of faculty say digital content is essential for 21st century classroom, only 11% of districts are using it, according to IT professionals.
- 2011 CDW-G 21st-Century Classroom Report

 Not all students have equal access to technology.  The gap between those that have access to technology and those that do not has been called the digital divide.

There are different levels of access that needs to be considered.  Does the student have access to technology, such as a computer?  Does the technology have access to the Internet?  Does the student possess the skill sets needed to access and use an e-learning system?  Is adapted technology needed to overcome a physical handicap, such as blindness or loss of hearing?  Then there is a new one.  Does the school actually provide e-learning or is the e-learning experience up to the level of the students’ expectation and proficiency in technology?

Discussions on the digital divide express the concern that students without computers and without access to the Internet do not participate in online learning and other online benefits.  According to a 2009 survey conducted by the PEW Internet and American Life Project, 95% of all teenagers ages 14 – 17 use the Internet.  According to a 2010 survey conducted by the same group, 90% of all young adults ages 18 - 29 use the Internet.  The Digital Divide widens as older age brackets are examined and when race, ethnicity, and income are considered.  The trend, however, is that the digital divide based on access to technology and to the Internet has lessen significantly and is diminishing.  And by inference, concerns about the skill sets needed to access e-learning systems should also diminish.

 It is a mistake, however, to assume that teachers and students would instinctively know how to access and use an e-learning system.  As a guideline to teaching online, Gilly Salmon has outlined a Five-Phase Model for Online Learning.  In this model, there are five stages of e-learning from the student, teacher, and technological perspectives.  

For the student the first stage is learning to access the system. In the second stage the student begins to appreciate the social environment of the e-learning experience. The student begins in the third stage to appreciate the benefits of the e-learning experience.  The fourth stage there is a change in roles in which teacher and student begin to work collaboratively.  The student, in the final stage, becomes more independent in the e-learning experience.

The teacher in the first phase is welcoming and encouraging as the student learns to access system.  In the second phase, the teacher provides bridges between cultural, social, and learning environments as the student begins to appreciate the online experience.  In the third phase, the teacher facilitates tasks as the student begins to appreciate the benefits of online learning.  In the fourth phase, the teacher facilitates the learning process while working collaboratively with student.  And in the fifth phase, the teacher is encouraging, as the student becomes a more independent e-learner.

There is also help to close the digital divide based on other factors.  For example Club Digital is a program designed to help families bridge this technological gap.  A Spanish language summer program pilot was recently launched to help close the divide that disproportionally affects Hispanic families in America.  It is a comprehensive bilingual multimedia Internet training program.  Created with the partnership of AT & T, California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), and Dewey Square Group, it will provide a free opportunity for millions to learn basic Internet skills.
  
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project (2011), one in four American adults live with a disability that interferes with activities of daily living.  Only 54% of these adults use the Internet while 84% percent of adults without such disabilities use the Internet.  This subsection, of course, overlaps with the older age bracket of adults that seldom use the Internet.  The point that adaptive technology is needed for students with a disability is still valid and more pressing than for the general population.

New and interesting to note is a juxtaposition shift in the Digital Divide discussion.  In a news release by a private provider of technology products and service, CDW (2011), the second annual 21st Century Classroom Report states that only 39% percent of students say their high schools are meeting their technology expectations.  Perhaps it is time to consider that the Digital Divide now is more about meeting the expectation of today’s students than it is about making technology available.

Please join me in my reflections on 21st century learning.  I want to read your comments and opinions.  I will do my best to answer questions.

I would like to add you to my circle of friends on Google+. Please email me at carlosmendoza3@educatormusing.com if you are interested in receiving a Google+ invitation. 

I would also like to include you in my growing circulation of Educator Musing Daily Posts. If you are interested in subscribing to the free daily updates and news, please visit the publication and click on Subscribe.

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Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCHslv51d5c

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Club Digital 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adumbrating the Failure of No Child Left Behind




“I’m disappointed that House legislation passed today doesn’t fix the real problems with No Child Left Behind … and doesn’t give states the kind of flexibility and reform they’re asking for.”
- U.S. Department of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan July 13, 2011

"We're pleased to see some recent progress among all age groups in reading and among younger age groups in math. We're also pleased to see achievement gaps shrinking in reading, but we still have a lot more work to do. Our focus on raising standards, increasing academic rigor and improving teacher quality are all steps in the right direction."
- U.S. Department of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan April 28, 2009

"While flexibility is the watchword of NCLB those of us who must implement this important law have found that a lack of flexibility is causing us difficulty in ensuring we meet its promise."
- Then California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell March 24, 2004

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan has come to a realization.  States need flexibility to create the reforms sought for in education.  That is quite a growth from federal government focus and control on raising standards and increasing academic rigor.  He has come to understand that No Child Left Behind has actually lowered standards, narrowed curriculum, and doesn’t work.  What could have caused such understanding?

11 Alive News July 21, 2011 – Elite Teach For America thrust into APS scandal






New York Times July 16, 2011 – Atlanta Schools Created Culture of Cheating, Fear

and Video


New York Times July 12, 2011 – Pa. Looking Into Possible Cheating on State Tests



The Atlanta Journal Constitution July 10, 2011 – Cheating scandal adds fuel to debate over high-stakes tests

The Commercial Appeal July 5, 2011– Tennessee Eyes Waiver For No Child Left Behind


Baltimore Sun June 25, 2011 – Cheating scandals put tests in the spotlight

USA Today  March 17, 2011 – When test scores seem too good to believe



Houston Chronicle December 15, 2006 – State discounts TAKS cheating

Amarillo Globe News December 2004 – Dallas paper finds evidence of TAKS cheating



Now if DOE Secretary Arne Duncan will only also see that Race To The Top is No Child Left Behind on steroids.  Or will he continue to push for the direct federal centralization of public education?

Please join me in my reflections on 21st century learning.  I want to read your comments and opinions.  I will do my best to answer questions.

I would like to add you to my circle of friends on Google+. Please email me at carlosmendoza3@educatormusing.com if you are interested in receiving a Google+ invitation. 

I would also like to include you in my growing circulation of Educator Musing Daily Posts. If you are interested in subscribing to the free daily updates and news, please visit the publication and click on Subscribe.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Corporate Knights of the Round Table


“A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs, but whether America can outcompete countries around the world.”
- President Obama
In an education roundtable meeting Monday, in which there were no educators, President Obama secured millions of dollars from corporate leaders.  In attendance was:
·           Marguerite Kondrake, Pres. & CEO of America’s Promise
·           Alma Powell, Chairwoman of America’s Promise
·           General Colin Powell, founding Chairman of America’s Promise
·           Craig Barrett, former Pres. & CEO of Intel
·           Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable
·           Steve Case, former Chairman & CEO of America Online
·           Brian Gallagher, Pres. & CEO of United Way Worldwide
·           William Green, Pres. & CEO of Accenture
·           Fred Humphries, Senior Vice President of Microsoft
·           Rhonda Mimms, Foundation Pres. of ING
·           Kathleen Murphy, Pres. of Fidelity Personal Investments
·           Ed Rust, CEO of State Farm
·           Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO of AT &T
·           Bill Swanson, Chairman & CEO of Raytheon
·           Laysha Ward, Foundation Pres. of Target
·           David Zaslav, Pres. & CEO of Discovery Communications
·           Bob Wise, a former governor, Pres. of Alliance for Excellent Education
·           Anne Finucane, Chair of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Many of my colleagues correctly point out that there were no educators at the meeting.  I can understand why not.  Educators cannot raise the kind of money that was pledged to education initiatives that day.  Collectively, more than $100 million in pledges to new initiatives was announced in conjunction with the meeting.

The meeting was essentially a fundraiser for education.  Nonprofit corporations have fundraisers all the time.  There is nothing improper about that.  Unfortunately our school system isn’t really set up to receive and distribute that large amount of pledges in an effective meaningful way. 

I just had a thought.  A congressional Act can abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Its $79 billion budget could then be used to establish and fund a private not-for-profit corporation to facilitate the development of public education. This would be similar to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Such a move can place in motion the means to shape the growing market for eLearning to serve our students. The current attempt to centralize public education through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race To The Top (RTTT) is not working. The education equivalent of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would accomplish more and be more effective.

Private foundations, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, that distribute hundreds of millions of dollars to education initiatives, are already trying to do this on their own. Corporate foundations have invested over $514 million in education initiatives. President Obama in this recent roundtable meeting secured millions more from corporations. In short, it's happening anyway without public accountability.

A radical change in education from direct government control to government funded private not-for-profit corporations is an idea worth pursuing. Finding the right mixture of instruction, management­, and structure for sustainable funding and accreditation will be a challenge, but our kids are worth it.

Please join me in my reflections on 21st century learning.  I want to read your comments and opinions.  I will do my best to answer questions.

I would like to add you to my circle of friends on Google+. Please email me at carlosmendoza3@educatormusing.com if you are interested in receiving a Google+ invitation. 

I would also like to include you in my growing circulation of Educator Musing Daily Posts. If you are interested in subscribing to the free daily updates and news, please visit the publication and click on Subscribe.

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video
 Source: Fox News: http://video.foxnews.com/v/1064114245001/ceos-pledge-investments-in-education







Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Commercial Markets Determining The Future Of Schooling



“Capitalism is the worst economic system in the world – except for everything else we’ve tried.”
 Pat Dorsey – MorningStar.com

Ambient Insight, founded in 2004, is an international market research firm that uses predictive analytics to identify revenue opportunities for global eLearning and Mobile Learning suppliers.  They released a new report predicting that the worldwide market for Self-paced eLearning products and services will grow from $32 billion to $49.9 billion by 2015.

The Worldwide Market for Self-paced eLearning Products and Services: 2010-2015 Forecast and Analysis report identifies a consistently growing pattern of demand for Self-paced eLearning in government agencies.  Countries with centralized educational systems, such as, China, are outspending corporate buyers for these products and services.  Even so, according to Chief Research Officer, Sam S. Adkins, North America is predicted to be the top buying region throughout the forecast period.

The global market is changing. Corporations are no longer the top buyers of Self-paced eLearning products. The demand is stronger now for academic products for government agencies.

According to Tyson Greer, CEO and Chief Content Officer (CCO) for Ambient Insight, “The global market is transitioning from a corporate story to an academic narrative.”

The growths of markets represent demands for products and services.  Here is another trend to consider that may explain the change in the global market for eLearning products.   For each new generation, more Americans are using the Internet.  This is backed up with a 2009 survey conducted by the PEW Internet and American Life Project stating that 95% of all teenagers ages 14 – 17 use the Internet.  According to a 2010 survey conducted by the same group, 90% of all young adults ages 18 - 29 use the Internet. 

In a news release by a private provider of technology products and services, CDW, the second annual 21st Century Classroom Report states that only 39% percent of students say their high schools are meeting their technology expectations.  Perhaps now is the time to consider that the Digital Divide now is more about meeting the expectation of today’s students than it is about making technology available.

The current formal school system is no longer working to the best benefit of our students and society.  This is being manifested in changing global markets and student perceptions of school. 

A congressional Act can abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Then they can establish and fund a private not-for-profit corporation to facilitate the development of public education. This would be  similar to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Such a move can place in motion the means to shape the growing market for eLearning to serve our students.  The current attempt to centralize public education through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race To The Top (RTTT) is not working.  The unintended consequence of direct federal government involvement in education is causing a collapse of the system.

A radical change in education from direct government control to government funded not-for-profit corporations is an idea worth pursuing.  Finding the right mixture of instruction, management, and structure for sustainable funding and accreditation will be a challenge, but our kids are worth it.

Please join me in my reflections on 21st century learning.  I want to read your comments and opinions.  I will do my best to answer questions.  

I would like to add you to my circle of friends on Google+. Please email me at carlosmendoza3@educatormusing.com if you are interested in receiving a Google+ invitation. 

I would also like to include you in my growing circulation of Educator Musing Daily Posts. If you are interested in subscribing to the free daily updates and news, please visit the publication and click on Subscribe.

To subscribe to Educator Musing, submit your email address in the Follow By Email box in the sidebar or if you prefer an RSS feed click on Posts.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

We Need A Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 in 2012 for Education


“If midyear budget cuts are realized, AB 114 severely restricts the ability of school districts to deal with them.  … Consequently, midyear cuts, coupled with statutory restrictions on how they may manage them, could drive more districts to financial insolvency.  Ironically, this would result in those districts being "taken over" by the very state that forced their insolvency.”
- California School Boards Association

 Assembly Bill 114 in California is another example of why our school system needs to be privatized away from direct government control.  The bill specifically dictates to school districts how their budgets need to be presented, limits their ability to balance their budget, and forces districts to use misleading finance projections.  Micro-management of education from Sacramento and Washington D.C. has created a mess.  There are other alternatives to funding education.

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 is an example of how government can and perhaps should fund education.  Through this act, Congress established and funds the Corporation of Public Broadcast (CPB) as a private not-for-profit corporation to facilitate the development of public media.  The Corporation for Public Broadcasting does not produce any programming but instead provides support for independent noncommercial non-profit organizations, such as, the Public Broadcast Service (PBS), National Public Radio (NPR), and independent public television stations.  PBS, NPR, and public television stations then work with private corporations to produce what has been excellent public television programming.

Congress can dissolve the U.S. Department of Education and establish a private not-for-profit corporation to facilitate the development of public education.  The billions of dollars wasted by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race To The Top (RTTT) could have been better spent by an entrepreneurial approach similar to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.  This is an idea worth pursuing.  Finding the right mixture of instruction, management, and structure for sustainable funding and accreditation will be a challenge, but our kids are worth it.

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video



California School Boards Association - CSBA Budget Update: Analysis of Trailer Bill AB 114 

Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) – About CPB

Leginfo.ca.gov – California Assembly Bill 114










Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Failing to make the No Child Left Behind Cut

"The law has created dozens of ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed. We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible and focused on the schools and students most at risk."
U.S. Department of Education Secretary – Arne Duncan

It’s all about the test scores.  Administrators, pressured to reach or maintain test scores to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) adequate yearly progress benchmarks, insists that teachers strictly adhere to the “essential standards” that will be tested on the standardized state test.  Only the courageous teacher will deviate to include the visual and performing arts, social studies, and other subjects with nonessential standards.

NCLB is federal legislation signed into law with bipartisan support in 2002 meant to improve public schools.  The original intent was to provide billions of dollars and other support to close the achievement gap between different groups of students.  Standards-based education was to be developed by the states to clearly define what a child should know and be able to do by the end of a school year.  And for the first time, visual and performing arts was listed as a core academic subject.  Standardized annual state tests were also to be implemented to measure adequate yearly progress in closing the achievement gaps.

The funds to aid the states never fully materialized.  And punitive damages to states, districts, and schools tied to the standardized state tests changed the dynamics of the law’s original intent.

Schools will do whatever it takes to avoid the punitive damage that NCLB will visit upon then if the do not reach the test benchmarks.  Cheating, unfortunately, has become a problem.  In the wake of the city wide cheating scandal in Atlanta, U.S. Department of Education, Arne Duncan, has expressed his concern about cheating – again.

Unfortunately, there are other ways of beating the test-based accountability system besides cheating. 

Did you ever see the 1990 movie, Pump Up The Volume, starring a young Christian Slater?  It was about a shy teenager with a pirate radio station connecting with other teens as he found his voice to speak his mind.  The story in the background was about a principal finding unjustified reasons for expelling poor performing students that will lower the school’s test scores.

Closer to real life is the closing and reopening of schools with a new name.  Changing the student testing population of a school.  Lowering the standard for what is defined as proficient on test scores.  Or, if it is a charter or magnet school, dropping low performing students back to their regular neighborhood public school. 

Such seems to be the case of Katherine Sprowal’s son, Matthew.  Ms. Sprowal was initially please that Matthew won the lottery to attend a New York City charter school.  It soon became clear that the school that will not let him fail was recommending that he would be better suited elsewhere to be successful.  Matthew was diagnosed with having an attention disorder.  Years later, Ms. Sprowal became convinced that her son was done an injustice.  Fortunately, he thrived at Public School 75.

In 2010, Harold Maready, superintendent of McKeel Schools in Florida, defended the charter school’s dismissal rate.  Charter schools must accept all students.  It is only when a charter school is filled to capacity that a lottery system is used to select students.  Once enrolled, however, a signed contract with a very defined policy on reasons for dismissal, including behavior, attendance, and academic performance may drop a student later.  Typically these students return to the neighborhood public school.

Soon it will not matter.  The system is falling apart. The NCLB test benchmarks are raised in intervals over the years to measure yearly adequate progress toward the goal of 100 percent of all students proficient or better in math and English language arts by the year 2014.  U.S. Department of Education, Arne Duncan has estimated that 82 percent of schools may be labeled as failed schools in the next test cycle because the benchmark has become so high.

Arne Duncan has called upon Congress to change the law.  It was suppose to be revised in 2008 to avoid the pending catastrophic test scores, but it never happened.  In the meanwhile he is offering a waiver from the test results to desperate states if they will agree to restrictive stipulations that will give the federal government more control over public education.  He did the same with billions of Race To The Top Grant dollars.

States are now abandoning NCLB and daring Congress to do something about it.  Congress will eventually do something, but they are so far down the wrong path that it will not be the right thing.  Ultimately the federal government needs to get out of the school improvement business.  They are not very good at it.  We need to privatize public education out of direct government control without imposing tuition on parents and still meet the public good.  Finding the right combination of instruction, management, and structure for sustainable funding and accreditation will be a challenge, but our kids are worth it.

Educator Musing is the place to explore this idea.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

NCLB + Race To The Top = Federal Extortion, Hijack, and Takeover of Public School System






Duncan has announced plans to dangle No Child Left Behind waivers in exchange for desperate states embracing the department's ideas on education reform.



Extortion attempt! #edchatSecretary Arne Duncan responds to questions about waiver planhttp://j.mp/nj7Zwd

House Committee pushes back. Arne Duncan is not the nation's superintendent. Race To The Top coercion is over the top. http://t.co/58rQug9

New RTTT targeting 4yr olds #edchat Politics K-12: New Race to Top Stresses Pre-K Tests, Early Ed. Program Ratings http://t.co/wmgepWk








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Friday, July 8, 2011

We Can Have Teachers Without Borders Part 3

Location! Location! Location!
What Does Location, Location, Location Mean?
It means identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to location. It's repeated three times for emphasis, and so you will remember the phrase. It's the number one rule in real estate, and it's often the most overlooked rule. The best locations are those in prime spots such as:
·           Within Top-Rated School Districts
·           Close to Outdoor Recreation and Nature

·           Homes with a View

·           Near Entertainment and Shopping

·           In Conforming Areas

·           In Economically Stable Neighborhoods

·           Near Public Transportation, Health Care and Jobs

·           In the Center of the Block
Elizabeth Weintraub – about.com


This is the last in a three part series.

Real estate agents know more about public education than politicians.  Elizabeth Weintraub in an article for about .com states, “Home buyers with children are concerned about their children's education and often will pay more for a home that is located in a highly desirable school district.”

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to buy a home in neighborhoods with top-rated schools.  Tanya McDowell, not the best poster parent for school reform, was recently arrested again, but now for drug charges.  She first received media coverage when she was arrested for stealing a $15,000 kindergarten education by using a fraudulent address to enroll her son in a school in a more affluent neighborhood.

Kelly Williams-Bolar spent nine days in jail for fraudulently using her father’s address to enroll two of her children in a school in a more affluent neighborhood.

What is it about schools in more affluent neighborhoods that seem to make them better than other schools?  That is besides having parents with more education.  And besides being in a more economically stable neighborhood.  They are better funded.

In California, schools are funded from three sources:  state, federal, and local.  On average for the past ten years school districts receive 79% of their funding from the state, 13% from the federal government, and 8% locally.  The percentages change according to neighborhoods.  For example, a school district in an affluent neighborhood, such as, Beverly Hills Unified may receive 70% of their funding from the state, 4% from the federal government, and 26% locally.  A school district in a much less affluent area, such as, Adelanto Elementary School District, may receive 86% of their funding from the state, 10% from the federal government, and only 4% locally.

Now consider this, approximately 30% of California’s budget is for K-12 education.  There is a $9.4 billion dollar deficit that has been deferred for a later date.  However, when the state eventually deals with its huge budget deficit with cuts to services – the schools more dependent on state funding will get hurt the most.  The districts that can raise more money locally can better maintain services and keep enrichment classes in the curriculum.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights gathered information from 72,000 schools across the nation to gain insight on how equitable or inequitable schools are within districts and across states. Not all of the information has been released yet.  But the new federal data shared last week showed that not all schools and districts offer an equivalent high quality rigorous education. 

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated, “These data show that far too many students are still not getting access to the kinds of classes, resources and opportunities they need to be successful.”

Nirvi Shah, in an article for Education Week, broke down the data. 

·           3, 000 schools serving 500,000 high school students did not offer Algebra II classes.

·           7,300 schools serving 2 million high school students did not offer calculus.

·           At schools where the majority of students were African-American, teachers were twice as likely to have only one or two years of experience compared with schools within the same district that had a majority-white student body.

Is it little wonder that parents are willing to pay more for a house in a top-rated school district?  Is it any wonder that parents unable to buy homes within a top-rated school district are willing to lie to enroll their children there anyway?

A 21st century education, if not tied to a location, doesn’t have that problem.  New and creative ways to provide an education online are being developed all the time.

Sophia.org, for example, is a free social learning community focused on education.  Founded by CEO Don Smithmier, Sophia is built on the belief that it can be the place where you teach what you know and learn what you don’t know. 

The ambition is clear when the search bar on Sophia asks, what do you want to learn?  The categories offered include applied sciences, English/literature, humanities, mathematics, and more.  The categories are then broken down to more specific subjects.

Registering on Sophia is like joining any other online social network. One creates an account and customizes their profile by uploading a picture and sharing a short bio.  You then have access to create learning packets, create groups, provide ratings and reviews, and follow others.

Learning packets are multimedia created tutorials with a learning objective using tools such as text, images, video, audio, and slideshows.  They can be shared privately with a group or made public.  Sophia provides a dual rating and review system for users to evaluate the packets for quality control.

Groups are invitation only.  They can be used to coordinate a study group, organize a class, or evolve around an interest.  A “bookshelf” of learning packets can be created or adopted by the group. 

Sophia recently acquired Guaranteach, a web-based service that provides customized short-form mathematics video tutorials along with assessment tools.  Guarantech has nearly 23,000 videos from counting to calculus developed by 200 teachers and experts in mathematics.  They also provide quizzes and other assessment tools to match tutorials to learning styles and provide student progress reports.  Prior to the acquisition, this service was provided solely on a pay per use basis to schools.  The videos will be available for free on Sophia.org.

Sophia.org plan to expand the Guarantech model to include a full range of English and science tutorials.   And create a new platform that may be licensed by colleges and schools.

Don Smithmier states that the acquisition will provide students and instructors a free resource of math tutorials ranging from basic math to college algebra.  For colleges and schools the combination of Guaranteach’s adaptive learning model and Sophia’s social learning capabilities will provide a powerful platform for differentiated instruction and blended learning.

Sophia.org is not an accredited school.  It is, however, an example of how learning can be re-imagined online away from the brick and mortar of traditional schooling.
Online, teachers can teach without physical borders and boundaries. 


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Used by U.S. Department of Education:  Civil Rights Office Data Collection