FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | August 29, 2014

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, gives students and parents rights to access, review, and dispute educational records. FERPA also attempts to define an "educational record."

However, having rights is one thing, being able to use them is another, and being informed of those rights is yet another. In order to get a sense of how easy or difficult is is for students and parents to learn how to use their FERPA rights in different educational settings, we conducted a series of basic searches on charter school districts and large urban school districts.

Our method is pretty simple: start with a Google search on the term FERPA and the phrase "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act" limited to a specific school district or charter organization.

In some cases, we would then do a follow up search using the site's native search for both terms separately: FERPA, followed by "...

Bill Fitzgerald | August 28, 2014

Washington State Schools that were making progress a year ago are now failing - not because anything changed in schools, but because the US Department of Education moved the goalposts.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction put out a press release, but Randy Dorn, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, was pretty succinct:

"By losing our waiver, we've had to do some things I think are ridiculous, stupid, ineffective and a waste of resources."

Because the USDOE shifted the definition of "progress" nearly 90% of schools in Washington State are not making enough of it. In Washington "adequate progress" is...

Bill Fitzgerald | August 25, 2014

Over the last few weeks, we have all been following the events in Ferguson.

In the middle of the protests, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library provided resources for community members, and a safe place for kids that met them where they were at. The library worked with Ferguson teachers and volunteers to set up a full ad-hoc schoolhouse until it was safe to open the public schools.

This is what libraries do. They provide a safe place where people can find out more about who they are, what they love, and who they want to become.

The Ferguson Library has been there for the people of Ferguson. I'd like to see what we can do to ensure that the Ferguson library has the resources they need to support their patrons in the weeks, months, and years to come.

On the Ferguson Library home page you will see a "...

Bill Fitzgerald | August 7, 2014

Personalized learning is frequently discussed, and rarely defined. People can mean many different things when they talk about personalized learning (and arguably, we need to reclaim the term) - but personalized learning can refer to software used for, at least, any of the following:

  • Learning the basics;
  • Remedial help;
  • Reinforcement and review;
  • Taking advanced coursework; or
  • Credit recovery.

Each of these uses carries a range of additional questions: who is being given online or personalized tools? Who supplies and maintains these tools? For students using personalized systems, how was it determined that software was the best approach for that student? To what extent are educational and pedagogical choices driven by "personalized" tools?

The use of these tools are all over the spectrum. There is a significant different between...

Bill Fitzgerald | August 7, 2014

While doing some research for another blog post, I was looking for information on COPPA, FERPA, or student privacy in Michigan's Education Achievement Authority.

It appears to be in pretty short supply.

EAA Privacy Policy - you get nothing!

Bill Fitzgerald | July 7, 2014

UPDATE, 10 July 2014: Matt Tullman from digedu commented to announce that digedu has updated their terms. I have not read through the new terms yet, and will update this post when I do. END UPDATE

I've been reading terms of service for a while, and I've seen some bad ones, but the terms of Digedu are just about the worst I have ever seen. If you don't want to wade through the details, please skip straight to the conclusion.

With Digedu, the issue is compounded because they list two separate terms of service and privacy policies. The text of these policies is not the same, which is a separate problem. For this review, I focused on the terms of service listed at...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 22, 2014

When working in software development and support, troubleshooting is part of your daily workload. The people who are the best troubleshooters often, when encountering a problem, approach it from the perspective of "what did I do to cause this problem?" Because their first step in addressing the issue involves a close look at how they interacted with the technology, they slow things down, look at their interactions, and gain a clearer understanding of how the software works as a result. Like it or not, computers are consistently, maddeningly logical - they are remarkably good at doing exactly what we tell them.

People who skip over the first part - the part where they examine their behavior in an effort to rule out human error - can still be competent troubleshooters, but for obvious reasons they are prone to committing a PEBKAC.

I was reminded of this over the last few days when, on Twitter, a woman showed...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 18, 2014

Over the last few months, we've been working with Lumen Learning to support their mission of increased adoption of open educational resources. As part of this work, we needed a way to import course content stored in a learning management system into more flexible authoring environments. To support this, we built a Common Cartridge importer (Common Cartridge is supported by most systems) that lets us take a Common Cartridge export file and bring it into Candela, the authoring platform used by Lumen.

What you see here is an early version of the functionality; we'll be modifying and revising this as we run more imports. But the import process is pretty simple, so if you like living on the edge and want to free some of your courses from your institution's LMS, there's no time like the present.

...
Bill Fitzgerald | June 2, 2014

This post is a response to RFI 2014-08649.

Document Citation: 79 FR 21449
Page: 21449 -21453 (5 pages)
Agency/Docket Number: Docket ID ED-2014-OUS-0040
Document Number: 2014-08649

Elements of the college application process are repetitive, and require students to pull and collate data already collected elsewhere. For some students, family circumstances can create barriers to getting this information together. Additionally, some students will be navigating the process on their own. To support students looking to transition into college, we should use existing systems to support them along that path.

FAFSA and the Common Application could be streamlined to make use of data already collected, by the...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 1, 2014

Right now, there is a very good possibility that at least some of the candidates for the 2056 presidential election are in elementary or middle school.

To meet federal accountability requirements, their schools collect detailed information about their behavior and performance. This information - tied to a unique identifier - gets stored in a state database that records detailed information about learners. All states collect this information for K12 education; 41 track information from preK through college.

Many of these state level datastores are managed, supported, and accessed by external vendors like - for example - Pearson, eScholar, and Infinite Campus.

If this candidate goes to a school that uses Powerschool, then their personal...

Pages

Subscribe to FunnyMonkey Blog