The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced more than $90 million in grants to support networks of schools' work to help students of color and low-income students.
DialogeX is partnered with the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Learning (IFL) to support their literacy improvement effort in the Dallas ISD for the next 5 years. NexPort Campus is the selected technology platform (in particular, the online video coaching component) for working with literacy coaches to develop reading and writing skills.
The Institute for Learning will support six middle schools and six high schools to increase proficiency in English/language arts and increase the number of students on track by the end of 9th grade for high school graduation: $7.4 million, five years.
According to Ed Week, the goal is to coordinate networks of schools to address specific problems that act as barriers for low-income students and students of color on their way to high school graduation and beyond. Based on a concept of “continuous improvement", the team will seek to evaluate different approaches to problems, find what works, and then recreate the viable solutions at similar schools within the district.
Follow this link to Ed Week for details.
 Sawchuk, S. (n.d.). With $92 Million in Grants, Gates Foundation Launches Newest Strategy to Improve K-12 Schools. Retrieved August 29, 2018, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2018/08/with_a_93_million_in_grants_Gates_relaunches.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB
Online video coaching is garnering significant attention within educational circles. Not simply watching “talking head” recordings and/or YouTube “selfies”, but actually engaging in a collaborative experience between teacher and coach where video becomes “an artifact of practice” (as several of the Fellows at the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Learning have noted). However, to accomplish this effectively, online video coaching cannot simply rely upon a software solution so much as it must work within a system – a system which must address three essential concerns.
"Technology products that don't work the way people expect make them feel stupid--even if they ultimately accomplish what they set out to do." (Garrett, 2010)
The term "user-centered design" (UCD) originated in Donald Norman’s research laboratory at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in the 1980s. He noted, "We are victims of our own success. We have let technology lead the way, pushing ever faster to newer, faster, and more powerful systems, with nary a moment to rest, contemplate, and to reflect upon why, how, and for whom all this energy has been expended." (Norman, 1998).
Simply stated, the possibilities for educators to effectively implement software solutions are significantly enhanced through their participation in solution design. Consider how much time, focus, and mental energy teachers and coaches will spend learning to “drive the software” as opposed to spending those resources on improving instructional practice through reflection and coaching. Our technology partners at NexPort Solutions have been involving educators in the continuous improvement cycle of design, development, and evaluation of (software development ) a video coaching system for almost a year. These efforts have yielded invaluable insights into equitably accommodating educators' goals, environments, and workflows.
Stewardship of Data
Protecting data privacy in today’s high-threat environment is difficult. For example, between 1 January 2016 and 5 April 2018, K-12 public schools and districts were reported to have experienced at least 323 cyber security-related incidents resulting in the disclosure of personal information, the loss of taxpayer dollars, and the loss of instructional time. (“K-12 Cyber Incident Map – EdTech Strategies,” n.d.)
Compounding this exposure, many school web sites now support deep integration with Facebook through the use of ad trackers and tools like Facebook Connect (Levin, n.d.). As this is happening, various parties harvest online images (image mining) without the explicit knowledge or consent of its subjects. The Wall Street Journal noted that the potential of image mining for commercial and predatory purposes is significantly under recognized (MacMillan & Dwoskin, 2014).
In the rush to support data-driven decision-making for the purposes of transforming teaching and learning (especially in high-needs schools) how do educational institutions balance data aggregation and data targeting? Increasingly, the public expects increasing levels of stewardship from those organizations that collect their data. In fact, in a recent survey, 62 percent of the respondents indicated that they would blame the data-collecting organization for their lost information in the event of a breach, not the hacker (RSA Security, LLC, 2018).
Online video coaching systems (and their providers) must address:
This requires more than simple acknowledgement of perfunctory compliance with regulatory requirements (e.g., Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, etc.). The system’s providers should operate under recognized International standards (e.g., OpenSAMM, General Data Protection Regulation, and ISO 27000) that are documented and that incorporate scheduled audits and continuous improvement. These standards provide operational guidance to DialogeX and NexPort Solutions for preventing unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, inspection, recording or destruction of information.
In T-Ball games, it is interesting to observe the little batter flailing away at the ball while eager spectators (typically parents and grandparents) shout, “Hit the ball!” The guidance is passionate, but it is also pointless. The batter understands that hitting the ball is the objective, but she/he lacks the skill to do so. What’s needed is a collaborative framework to guide the batter’s practice.
By definition, coaching relies upon an experienced person (a “coach”) to support a less experienced person (a “learner”) in the achievement of a specific personal or professional objective. The experience typically draws upon the coach’s domain experience, insights, and guidance (Passmore, 2016). Coaching, especially in educational settings, is collaborative, reflective, and iterative. It’s not just telling the learner what is wrong; it’s guiding the learner to adopt and/or sustain effective practices.
The Institute for Learning’s Content-Focused Coaching (CFC) model is a good example of such a framework. In this framework, the coach uses their domain expertise, questioning skills to facilitate conversations with learners that allow them to discover areas for new levels of success. CFC seeks to provide “a long-term engagement of teachers in a learning community, focused on a specific instructional program, with the opportunity to design, enact and critique lessons with the guidance of a more expert practitioner.” (Matsumura, 2006).
The addition of a video component to CFC allows both coach and teacher to capture specific relevant experiences and focus on them. When conducted over time through multiple coaching cycles, the video record also provides a window into the teacher’s professional growth. If permitted to share the videos with a larger community of professional educators, a rich collection of exemplars emerges.
The case for online video coaching is quite compelling -- but it is also complex. For example, perhaps user-centric design should include the ability to conduct online video coaching with a smartphone (Figure 1, right).
This would provide educators with a more equitable and useful experience, but consider the data privacy implications of a highly mobile environment. And in this highly mobile environment, what methodologies must educators employ to ensure that online video coaching remains an effective tool for improving instructional practice?
DialogeX, NexPort Solutions, and the Institute for Learning are currently working with teams of K-12 educators to develop online video coaching systems that meet these challenges in a mobile environment.
Garrett, J. J. (2010). Elements of User Experience,The: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond (2nd ed.). Pearson Education.
K-12 Cyber Incident Map – EdTech Strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2018, from https://www.edtechstrategies.com/k-12-cyber-incident-map/
Levin, D. (n.d.). In the News: Potential K-12 Fallout From Facebook’s Crisis of Trust – EdTech Strategies. Retrieved April 6, 2018, from https://www.edtechstrategies.com/blog/in-the-news-potential-k-12-fallout-from-facebooks-crisis-of-trust/
MacMillan, D., & Dwoskin, E. (2014, October 9). Smile! Marketing Firms Are Mining Your Selfies Photo-Sharing Sites Are Being Scanned to Find Brands, Target Ads. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/smile-marketing-firms-are-mining-your-selfies-1412882222
Matsumura, L. (2006). Content-Focused Coaching (SM) for High Quality Reading Instruction [Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts - Details]. Retrieved April 9, 2018, from https://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=331
Norman, D. (1988). The psychology of everyday things. New York: Doubleday.
Norman, D. (1998). The invisible computer: Why good products can fail, the personal computer is so complex, and information appliances are the solution. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Passmore, J. (Ed.). (2016). Excellence in coaching : the industry guide (Third). Philadelphia; London: Kogan Page.
RSA Security, LLC. (2018). Data Privacy & Security Report. Retrieved from https://www.rsa.com/content/dam/en/e-book/rsa-data-privacy-report.pdf
Schenk, T. (2016, May 26). Why Effective Coaching Requires A Coaching Framework. Retrieved April 9, 2018, from https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/why-effective-coaching-requires-a-coaching-framework/
The Institute for Learning’s 2017 Conference, Designing for Difference, featured outstanding workshops and presentations. It was also the first such event in which DialogeX participated and it will not be the last. I was impressed by how many of the fellows and partners with whom we met were already familiar with the online professional development projects that DialogeX and IFL are pursuing. Further, several IFL fellows are now deeply involved with our technology partner, NexPort Solutions, to develop features and functions to make IFL online offerings come alive (virtually speaking…). I must say that in 30 years of training and education experience, I have seldom encountered such an incredibly engaged group of professionals.
Several of this year’s conference topics spoke to opportunities for creating voice and agency among student populations. However, what about those instances when the “student population” (i.e., the participants) is comprised of professionals? Perfunctory “one-shot” solutions at professional development seldom provide opportunities for voice or agency. DialogeX is working with IFL to provide such opportunities and to enhance the online experience.
DialogeX’ technology partner, NexPort Solutions, is working directly with IFL fellows to identify their needs, values, opinions, passions, and ambitions for the NexPort Campus online platform (i.e., voice). Experienced software developers will tell you that it is from these user stories that great user experiences emerge. This is resulting in a set of features and functions that will enable IFL to act upon the online environment that delivers their programs (i.e., agency). Here are some examples:
The bottom line is that educators can now choose to act with a purpose, pursuing an online professional development experience that addresses their needs rather than enduring a one-shot “death by PowerPoint”.