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What Does it All Mean? Part 2

Education Domain Blog

Authors: Susan Patrick

Issues: Issues in Practice, How to Get Started


In a continuation from yesterday’s post, I’ll be outlining some basic definitions for the lexicon of online learning.

Many of these terms can be obscure or confusing, or in some cases, the available definitions can be conflicting. So we recently worked to put together an exhaustive set of online learning terms as well as their definitions as agreed by experts in the field. This is by no means the complete list. The full document is available at iNACOL’s web site.

Competency-Based Learning is characterized by the following attributes:

  • Students advance upon mastery.
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives
    that empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of
    knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

Credit recovery refers to a student passing, and receiving credit for, a course that he/she previously attempted but did not succeed in earning academic credit towards graduation. Online and blended models are used by a number of charter schools districts and districts as part of credit recovery programs that put students back on the path to graduation.

Full-time online learning programs serve students who take all of their courses (full-time) in an online school. These schools have highly qualified teachers that receive special professional development to prepare them with new skills and methods for teaching online, use curriculum and courses that are aligned to the state academic standards where they are located, and full-time online programs are responsible for state assessments required by No Child Left Behind, which is the primary way in which student outcomes, and school performance, are measured. In some states most full-time online schools are charter schools.

Learning Management System, or LMS, is the technology platform through which students’ access online courses. A LMS generally includes software to help teachers and administrators create and edit course content, communicate with students and assess student progress.

Part-time (or supplemental) online learning programs serve students who take part of their courses (part-time) online. These schools have highly qualified teachers that receive professional development to prepare them with new skills and methods for teaching online, use curriculum and courses that are aligned to the state academic standards where they are located, but usually do not offer a diploma (and are not responsible for state assessments required by No Child Left Behind). Examples of supplemental online learning programs are most state virtual schools.

Seat-time generally defines the amount of minutes a student must be “sitting in a seat” within a school to earn a credit (called a Carnegie Unit), particularly in traditional models of instruction. K-12 programs that are built on seat-time can provide obstacles to implementing the most innovative and transformative features of online and blended learning, including extended learning opportunities, “anytime, everywhere” access, and progression to the next level through subject mastery States that are seeking to implement online education models must consider the impact that outmoded approaches like seat-time have contributed to the achievement gaps we see in traditional K-12 education. The alternative is “competency based” policies instead of seat-time.

I encourage you to download the full document when you have a chance. It is available here.


Authors

Susan Patrick

President & Chief Executive Officer

All blog posts from Susan Patrick