Educational Resources

No One Technology

I like Ning, I like Moodle, I like computers... I don't think this should be a conversation about what application is better than another but about making sure the FCC is aware of all of them and how they benefit all learners. I'm a firm believer that a blended model is best...use the technology and application that fits the current learning task.

One technology I think that is rarely mentioned and very powerful in connecting students to people and resources is h323 videoconferencing. This is the "killer app" for broadband technologies. About 30% of US schools already have this technology in house (Wainhouse Research, 2009). What better way to connect kids to kids across the globe to solve real world problems? See for an example of best practice. Here again, I am not advocating JUST video, but consider it a strong partner in a multimedia approach to problem based learning that may incorporate LMS's such as Ning or Moodle, web-based video (for one on one talking head type activities) and Web 2.0 apps as appropriate. See my attached slide.

Steve, Thanks for getting this conversation going!


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  1. Comment
    George Phillips

    If we build it, will they come?

    Development of high-quality multimedia broadband online educational resources requires considerable investment. Will that investment pay off educationally if not financially? Our experience with U.S.A. Learns says it will. U.S.A. Learns is an innovative project that creates an online pathway to literacy, language proficiency, economic opportunity, citizenship, civil participation, and civic integration for those who have been unable to benefit from traditional classroom programs due to problems with childcare, transportation, work schedules or other issues. It was conceived in 2005 when the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) recognized the seriousness of the language and literacy problem and contracted with the Project IDEAL Support Center at the University of Michigan and the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) to find out if the Web could use broadband technology to deliver instruction directly to adults who could not attend school due to personal circumstances or a lack of available programs. As a test-of-concept, SCOE and the University of Michigan designed and built U.S.A. Learns ( - a Web site to teach English to immigrants, an audience considered least likely to be able to use the Internet for self-study. If we built it, would they come?

    The site was launched November 7, 2008, with more than 400 hours of free instruction. Since then, with little or no promotion, the site has had 2,005,890 visits. With more than 7,000 visits per day, each lasting nearly 30 minutes,’s popularity exceeded everyone’s expectations.  However, after 9 months of operation with no promotional efforts whatsoever, usage had begun to level off.  With some 21.7 million adults in the U.S. who are limited English proficient, and another 1.8 million new immigrants arriving annually (according to the Migration Policy Institute), we were certain there were many more who would use and benefit from the site if they only knew about it.  As an experiment to see if we could increase awareness and usage, we recently sent out a simple press release, fact sheet and public service announcement to media with Hispanic and other immigrant audiences in ten U.S. cities.  The number of daily visits immediately tripled!

    We think that this tremendous response is one more indicator of both the need and the potential for not just enhanced adult language learning and literacy programs online, but for a truly comprehensive adult learning portal on the Web that both takes advantage of broadband's capabilities and promotes its use among market segments not usually reached.  Moreover, in today’s challenging economic environment, the dramatically lower cost of broadband delivery makes the case for an online learning portal especially compelling.  (The Migration Policy Institute estimates costs for classroom ESL programs at $10 per learner hour; U.S.A. Learns is operated for less than seven cents per learner hour!)

    If we build a comprehensive learning portal, will they come? Based on a typical learner's appreciation for U.S.A. Learns, they will: “Just I want to say thanks for this program.  Is very important for me to learn English, but for my job, I can’t to go to school. Thanks again and God bless all of you.”

    George Phillips

    Sacramento County Office of Education

  2. Comment

    I agree: "No One Technology"

    Yes, our circumstances are extremely diverse, and blended usage allows for the most flexibility.

    Yes, lets' not jump ahead to any kind of vetting. Not vetting will allow more resources to appear here. Steps preparatory to any meaningful vetting also include having a community of educators that represent the breadth of needs/usages, as well as a central collection point for information about what's available and how it's being used. We don't have a centralized collection point and we don't have broad enough involvement, at this point.

    Yes, lets also use the internet in two ways it's proven its worth: 1) let's also consider tools/practices valued within the educational communities of other nations; 2) let's allow natural vetting, through community valuing/usage and lack of usage, occur.

  3. Comment


    Isn't videoconferencing a very expensive infrastructure investment? I haven't seen many schools myself with the capability to do this. Perhaps it's a network effect problem where if we provide it widely then it will be more useful and have a bigger impact?

    Do you know of any studies or evidence to support remote teaching/learning via videocon type solutions? Any research evidence can help me a lot in making the case here. - Steve

  4. Comment

    Locally, SCCCD (State Center Community College District, California)is using video conferencing. I believe it's a delivery solution for large rural counties with small outlying towns, solving distance and facilities logistics, making the cost very worthwhile.

    I'm not sure which specifics would be most valuable to you: a yahoo search of "SCCCD videoconferencing classes" should bring up enough relevant links.

  5. Comment
    Jan Zanetis ( Idea Submitter )


    I am glad you asked about this. I am attaching a couple of documents recently done by Wainhouse Research that will give you some idea of this technology's penetration and applications. While the original implementations were indeed very expensive, and used ISDN lines to work, today its much more reasonable and quite often funded through E-Rate and various Federal grants...and run on boradband networks. Up until recently the majority of applications were for connecting teachers to rural students to deliver courses, however in the last couple of years the number one use of the technology is to connect classes to content providers: museums, science centers, historical sites for live, interactive, standards-based lessons covering every subject in the curriculum. For more on this, visit the major clearinghouse in the world for this: the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration. To test drive what I'm talking about, do a subject search here:

    The most rapidly growing app is collaborative projects linking kids to kids. CILC also cover that here:

    There's not a lot of research on this videoconferencing in education. Attached is a recent report conducted for the state of Arkansas, who from the legislation, funded a VC deployment into every high school in the state. Here is a page with some interesting articles that are related, however few with pure research: I recommend the one by Cathy Cavanaugh, an oldie but goody. I would be glad to gather more information on this topic if you wish.

    Jan Zanetis

  6. Comment

    A research offering posted by a building code specialist friend on twitter this morning:

    Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, published May of this year by US Dept of Ed:

    The study is limited to web-based instruction, excluding video conferencing modes, however, there may be useful overlap. I haven't had time to read it in its entirety and won't till tomorrow, but the url summarizes their findings. And, the bibliography of published research is extensive (Jan, I thought of you when I saw it!)

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