Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology and other Tech Observations by Dr, Helen Teague


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Global Online Education Courses in K-12

Online Education Courses Worldwide in K-12 Courses by Helen Teague

online ed Wordle

Image Source: Davidson, P. L. Student Perspectives of Future Online Faculty Competencies: A Qualitative Descriptive Study.

In Saturday’s post, guest columnist Mike Kolodziej blogged about higher education’s options of online education. For years the number of postsecondary students in the United States has increased – driven by the increasing numbers of high school graduates and economic factors.

What about online education in K-12 grades? In this arena, online course modules reflect many names: technology-based instruction (Dodds & Fletcher, 2004, p. 3), e-learning modules, distance learning courses, and even the derogatory “shovelware” (Carmel & Henry, 2014).

For the purposes of this blog post, “online learning” and “online courses” are those in which at least 80 percent of the course content is provided online with “mixed-initiative dialogue (Dodds & Fletcher, 2004, p. 3). Online courses may be fee-based or offered free of charge. They may be part of a required curriculum at a school or extra-curricular or interest-based (such as a course in learning a new language or a self-paced module). Online curriculum may be delivered through a Learning Management System such as Moodle, Open Class, Blackboard, Udacity, or Desire 2 Learn. Additional online course management system (CMS) such as Coursera, Canvass, or web pages to post the syllabus and assignments.

Worldwide, students’ preference for online courses continued to increase at an increasing rate with 32% of all students taking at least one online course (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Online course use and access in the K-12 sphere of the United States, Singapore, and the U.K. are addressed in the remainder of this post.



United States

7MillionStudentsOnline Clicking on online content is a regular occurrence for 6.7 million United States students (Allen & Seaman, 2013, p. 4). The 2013 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 7.1 million (Davidson). Further, the Babson Study found that there were 572,000 more online students in fall 2011. This is a slightly larger numeric increase from fall 2009 to fall 2010.

In a survey of 2,910 school districts in each state nationally, 96 percent reported having students enrolled in distance education courses at the high school level, 19 percent at the middle or junior high school level, 6 percent at the elementary school level, and 4 percent in combined or ungraded schools Queen, B., and Lewis, L. (2011).

The dominance of U.S. culture worldwide permeates online course offerings. In 2003, half of the Internet users were English speakers and 75% of websites were in English (Chen and Wellman, p. 157). Based in Bonn, Germany, the International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF) is the global market leader in networking events and services in the international education sector. In a June, 2012 blog article, ICEF writes that the U.S. has “been the (online) model to follow in developing online delivery systems” and “been the international model to emulate” (8 Countries Leading The Way In Online Education).

Simonson et al. (2003) noted that it is important that students are motivated and choose to be in a distance education environment. This is evident in the expanding the online course market. Fee-based Free World U gives students 24/7 access and “no classes to attend and no books to buy. The student / teacher relationship is individualized with one-to-one interaction.” Tuition-only International Virtual Learning Academy (IVLA) is a year-round private online school for students in grades K-12. Accredited by AdvancEd, IVLA awards a California State High School Diploma through its distance learning programs. American High School touts an entire grade progression in 4-6 months.

Singapore   Despite the trending of flat world scenarios for education (Darling-Hammond, L., 2010), online education still resides within the confines of industrialized countries (Chen & Wellman, 2003, p. 155). In Singapore, face-to-face education is highly valued. Educational Consultant Ann McMullan writes of her recent tour of educational sites in Singapore in her CoSN post, “Thoughts from Singapore Delegation.” Regarding Singapore’s school infrastructure, McMullan observed a “very tight alignment of vision, focus, and implementation between the Ministry of Education, the National Institute of Education, and the administrators and teachers in the schools. This intentionally designed, highly interconnected, integrated support system – which also includes innovation and leadership from IDA and major corporations – is yielding impressive results for the students of Singapore.” Elaborating on her observations upon her return, McMullan said that among the 1000 Singaporean school districts, “there is a real commitment to human capital.” Further, she remembered colleague Dr. Chip Kimball’s analogy that Singapore’s socio-political trajectory is “like living in Washington and Jefferson’s times because Singapore is at its 50 year-old marker” (Ann McMullan, personal discussion, February 25, 2015).

Many Singaporean schools value traditional, non-technological methods of instruction while their American and International school counterparts maintain more extensive hardware and online module options. According to one local teacher, there are differences between Singaporean schools and American/ International Schools.

International schools have much smaller class sizes and local schools are much larger.  In our school for example, most class sizes are between 15 – 20 students.  International schools are more focused on critical thinking and local schools are highly focused on memorizing information and facts.  For example, in international schools, the students explore, experiment, and discover scientific principles, but in local schools the students are taught the principles and facts and they memorize them…From what I have experienced of international schools that follow American curriculums and use more of the American style of grading, the teachers diversify the way that the students are assessed and their final grades are based on all of those grades. In local schools, the students’ grade for the year is mostly dependent on large exams, called A Levels and O Levels, with a greater emphasis put on the sciences and maths” (S.P., personal correspondence, February 18, 2015).

The K-12 school system strengthens Singapore’s position as a regional education juggernaut. National University of Singapore (NUS) recently catapulted to the top of the QS University Rankings: Asia. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also jumped in the rankings this year, from 9th position to 7th position (ICEF Monitor, 2014).

United Kingdom
In the U.K. the government’s Online Learning Task Force recommended a budget allotment of £100 million in online education to design online educational resources and courseware, mostly for higher education students due to increasing tuition costs in the UK (Atwood, B. 2011). In the K-12 realm, in 2014, the U.K.’s failure of a universal educational initiative to teach every school child to code resulted in public dubiousness for a governmental mandates. Technology trailblazers such as Nic Peachey continue to advocate for more online courseware integration (Nic Peachey, personal communication).

Scotland utilizes online modules in math, science, through the BBC Learning’s Bitesize collection of videos: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/topics/zrjhgk7 and learning guides. These guides offer online instruction, re-teaching, homework help, and standardized test prep. Bitesize learner guides covering all the main secondary subjects, but also new primary guides and thousands of curriculum-mapped video clips for both secondary and primary classrooms. The new Bitesize BBC learning module is now operational with an online library of 7,000 classroom clips. Secondary curriculum guides covering “Key Stages 3 and 4 of the National Curriculum, and National 4, 5 and Highers” in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, new primary level guides and new secondary level Computer Science content.

Online education in the K-12 grades offers promise to “strategically layer” content rich background layers, performance support, and tools (Carmel & Henry, 2014, p. 2). Increasing access to online courses and modules shows promise for inclusiveness and a diminishment of the digital divide.





8 Countries Leading The Way In Online Education. (2012) ICF Monitor. Retrieved from: http://monitor.icef.com/2012/06/8-countries-leading-the-way-in-online-education/ Retrieved January 15, 2015.

Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2013). Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States. Sloan Consortium. PO Box 1238, Newburyport, MA 01950.

Atwood, b. (2011). Britain Considers Expansion in Online Learning. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/01/27/britain_considers_expansion_of_online_education, January 31, 2015.

Carmel, B., & Henry, N. (2014). From Training Space to Any Place: Expanding Approaches to E-Learning.

Chen, W., & Wellman, B. (2003). Charting and Bridging Digital Divides. I-Ways, 26(4), 155-161.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teachers College Press.

Davidson, P. L. Student Perspectives of Future Online Faculty Competencies: A Qualitative Descriptive Study. Babson

Dodds, P., & Fletcher, J. D. (2004). Opportunities for new” smart” learning environments enabled by next generation Web capabilities (No. IDA-D-2952). INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE ANALYSES ALEXANDRIA VA.

ICEF Monitor, (June, 2014). Singapore solidifies its reputation as a regional education hub. Retrieved from http://monitor.icef.com/2014/06/singapore-solidifies-its-reputation-as-a-regional-education-hub/ February 28, 2015.

Kamenetz, A. (2013).  Exporting Education. Slate magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/11/developing_countries_and_moocs_online_education_could_hurt_national_systems.html Retrieved on January 30, 2015.

McMullan, A. (January 15, 2015). Thoughts from Singapore Delegation. Retrieved from: http://www.cosn.org/blog/thoughts-singapore-delegation, February 24, 2015.

Milner, J. (September, 2014). Why has Bite-sized changes? Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/aboutthebbc/entries/b8f85a7d-e565-3e08-9ed0-04874555bf08 January 28, 2015).

Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2011). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Cengage Learning.

Paulsen, M. (2002). An Analysis of Online Education and Learning Management Systems in the Nordic Countries. Retrieved from: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall53/paulsen53.html?xml:namespace 1/31/15.

Queen, B., and Lewis, L. (2011). Distance Education Courses for Public Elementary and Secondary School Students: 2009–10 (NCES 2012-008). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2003). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


Return to guest columnist Mike Kolodziej’s post


Guest Columnist on Online Higher Education ~ Mike Kolodziej

Guest Columnist on Online Higher Education in the U.S., India, and Singapore ~ Mike Kolodziej

Online and distance education have evolved over the years to occupy several forms.  From correspondence courses beginning in the 19th century, to the widely visible public-access television courses in the mid to late 20th century, distance education has been continually impacted by technological innovations.  The 21st century brought about the immergence of the internet, which has impacted society and economics in several significant ways.  A host of colleges, universities and other entities, both public and private, began to leverage the connected world of the internet, to offer formal and informal learning opportunities.  Early on, these offerings mainly targeted at learners in their own cultural-geographic region, have evolved to address larger and more geographically and culturally diverse groups.

As different countries take different approaches with addressing the educational needs of its’ citizens, each takes a slightly different approach to the issue exemplified in the brief snapshots below of three countries of particular interest.

United States:
Though certainly not unchallenged, the United States has been a world leader in online learning, and continues to do so today.  A report compiled by the Babson Survey Research Group in 2014, showed an increase in enrollment in online courses in the U.S. to represent over 33% of the total enrollment, tripling over the previous 10 year period, totaling over 7.1 million students.   The report also highlights perceptions in the relevance of online education to individual institutional strategies, with the percentage of academic leaders that view online educational outcomes as the same or better than face to face hovering around 74%.   (Allen & Seaman, 2014)

Most recently in the news and popular media, MOOCs or Massively Open Online Courses rose quickly to popularity, fueled by the promise of open access education for the world.   With access to some of the most widely-recognized and academically-respected expertise in a field providing the instruction, combined with a platform that could serve potentially millions of users around the globe, the potential of MOOCs though extremely high, unfortunately seems not to have been fully realized.  Facing significant retention and completion rates and arguably providing little to no improvement on pedagogy, for the time being, MOOCs seem to have faded away becoming part of the status quo of the disappointingly-undisrupted, traditional landscape.

“The solution is not Ivory Towers that choose the best students, locking them in a classroom for three to four years. The path to success for nations is to find ways to educate more of the population with the skills needed for tomorrow.”  (Hogan, 2010)

Recently, several countries have begun to leverage online learning as a way to advance the interests of their nations as a whole.  Vivian Stewart points out succinctly in the book World Class Education, “Getting education right gives a country a powerful platform on which to build a healthy economy and a healthy society.” (kindle location 78)  Several nations have already built Mega Universities with enrollments of over 100,000 students at each, leveraging multiple campuses along with online offerings to overcome barriers to access. (Hanover Research, 2011)  Particularly for developing nations, scalable high quality education is seen as a vehicle that will help move the country forward in a very competitive global environment.

Education has long been recognized as an equalizer in socio-economic progression between groups of all kinds, from individuals to nations, but the recent technology fueled changes driving first world innovation and economic growth seem even more out of reach for those who start from so far behind.  Linda Darling Hammond writes, “Thus, the new mission of schools is to prepare students to work at jobs that do not yet exist, creating ideas and solutions for products and problems that have not yet been identified, using technologies that have not yet been invented” (Kindle Location 357), a considerable task for all nations.

India takes education to scale:
India is the home of over 1.2 billion people, as well as one of the largest distance and open education universities, Indira Gandhi National Open University (http://www.ignou.ac.in/) established by Parliament in 1985.  Touting an enrollment of over 3 million students, IGNOU offers some 228 different diploma, degree and certificate programs, largely through open and distance education programs that leverage audio, video, radio, TV, teleconferencing and more. (Hanover Research, 2011)
With a mission to “provide access to higher education to all segments of the society”, India has been a world leader in the establishment of the largest-scaled open and distance university systems in the world, a solution proportional to the large and growing size of their overall population.

Singapore starts with fundamentals:

On the opposite side of the size spectrum is the city-state od Singapore, with a population of roughly 5.5 million inhabitants, who have made great strides in increasing access and quality of their education system over the last decade as measured in international benchmark exams like the PISA.  Though many of their reform efforts have focused on teachers through an increased focus on  preparation and an elevated status, important curricular changes focused on 21st century skills have also supported their efforts.

According to the Ministry of Education website for Singapore, several initiatives in progress are targeting the use of technology and connectivity have been identified including creation of a resource rich, virtual teaching and learning space targeting primary and secondary schools.  Another stated objective is to leverage technology and networking to create more student centric learning models to help foster 21st century knowledge and skills.

Universities in Singapore, similar to their international counterparts, offer courses and distance education in much the same way, some of which have partnered with other institutions internationally, or offered MOOCs through Coursera along with their mostly American counterparts.

~ Mike Kolodziej

Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2014). Grade change: Tracking online education in the United States, 2013. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC. Retrieved on, 2(5), 2015.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hanover Research (2011, February). Trends in Global Distance Learning. Accessed August 15, 2013, from http://www.hanoverresearch.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/12/Trends-in-Global-Distance-Learning-Membership.pdf

Hogan, R. & Kedrayate, A. (2010). E-learning: A survival strategy for developing countries. Proceedings of the 11th Conference of Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, 24-26th March. Isaacs, S., Hollow,

Stewart, V. (2012). A World-Class Education: Learning from International Models of Excellence and Innovation. Alexandria: ASCD.


Next post in the Series: Online Education Courses Worldwide in K-12 Courses


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Harvard, MIT to offer free online courses

In a move that heightened competition in online education and brought more prestige to the still-fledgling field, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are partnering to offer the public mainly free Internet classes.

Harvard and MIT are each donating $30 million to create a nonprofit organization, to be called “edX” that will develop an Internet platform for the classes and design new ways to teach and learn with technology, according to the two Cambridge, Mass., schools.

Click here to read more http://ow.ly/1jBEyy

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