Category Archives: Technology

Technology is not in place of education but integrated into education as it has been integrated into our daily lives through computers, tablets and phones. We need to be comfortable with technology where we are today and where it is leading to in the future!

New Mobile Education App with Mega Info

New Mobile Application Offers Detailed Information about California’s PK-12 and Adult Education Schools

Source: California Department of Education


A new mobile application that offers detailed information about California’s 10,000 public schools was announced last week by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

The free “CA Schools” mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android systems, lets users locate nearby schools based on their current location or search for schools (public or private) by location (e.g., city, district, or ZIP code). The app provides information such as the school’s phone number, address, demographics, and test scores (for public schools).

“Never before have we put so much school information literally in the hands of our students, parents, and community members and made the information so accessible and user-friendly,” Torlakson said.

Visit for more information about this useful new app. Also see for today’s announcement about DataQuest improvements.

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Carol Fry Bohlin, Ph.D.

Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator (M.A. in Education-C&I)

Director, Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI)

Reporter/Editor, California Online Mathematics Education Times (COMET)

California State University, Fresno

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Looking for Algebra 1 and Math 1 teachers!

If you are an Algebra I or Math I teacher, please see below.

WestEd, a not-for-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a study during the fall 2017 semester to evaluate the Querium StepWise™ Virtual Tutor for Algebra. StepWise is an online supplemental homework and quiz program that uses artificial intelligence to help students improve their mathematics problem solving. Aligned with Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, the intelligent tutoring system provides real-time, personalized tutoring to Algebra 1 students with the goal of achieving outcomes similar to those found with 1:1 tutoring.

Participating math teachers will receive stipends up to $850 for their involvement in this 8-week study! To participate, teachers must: a) be currently teaching Algebra I, and b) have at least part-time 1:1 student access to a computer, laptop, or tablet.

Please indicate your interest in participating by Friday, May 5th:

Please also forward this information to any Algebra 1 teachers who you think might be interested in participating. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Bryan Matlen, Ph.D.
Research Associate, WestEd, STEM program

Need a Job?

7 Trends That Will Impact Who Finds A Job in 2016

Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in seven years, at 5 percent, and for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher the rate is actually half that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the economy has been adding well over 200,000 jobs a month. And healthcare, professional and technical services, retail, manufacturing, finance and government are all adding jobs.

Current U.S. employees—especially those looking to switch jobs—can expect a raise in 2016. A WorldatWork study found U.S. workers can expect an average base salary raise of 3.1 percent next year, but top performers can expect higher-than-average merit-based salary increases. New research from The Conference Board found that labor markets have tightened faster than expected, and that could mean employers will have to start raising wages faster than they have been. And research from SHRM and Rutgers University shows that the newly hired are seeing increased pay—which reflects the need for businesses to raise wages in order to attract new talent.

For those doing the hiring, employee retention will be a top priority in the new year. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2016 Global Recruiting Trends report found that nearly 60 percent of companies are investing more in their brand in an effort to keep current employees happy and recruit new, well-qualified talent.

Some of the job market and hiring trends to keep in mind as we head into the new year:

  1. Hiring isn’t limited to technology and healthcare.

Sure, those sectors are growing, but there are plenty of opportunities for new jobs and long-term, thriving careers in areas like marketing, sales, finance and transportation. Recent studies have found that among the top ten fastest growing occupations are nurses, software developers and network and computer system administrators, marketing managers, sales managers, industrial engineers, construction professionals and financial managers.

  1. However, if you are a software developer, it’s going to be a great year.

There’s no question software developers are still in high demand. Nearly one in every 20 open job postings in the U.S. is related to software development and/or engineering. Also in demand, is expertise with data analytics –now one of the most in-demand skills in the U.S.

  1. Marketing manager becomes a tech job.

Some of the highest growth tech companies, like Amazon and Facebook, have a great need for marketing managers. In fact, it’s the highest volume job opening after software developer/engineer. But the requirements are changing, because of the rapid growth of digital consumer advertising. The job increasingly requires the use of analytics to navigate new marketing channels and ways of acquiring customers.

  1. Millennials take the reins.

We’ll see a lot more Millennials in management positions in 2016. A new study from Upwork reports that nearly 30 percent of managers today are Millennials, with five percent seniors  managers and two percent in executive positions. The study found that within ten years nearly half of Millennials are aiming to be senior managers; seven percent want to be executives and 15 percent want to be business owners.  The global consultancy EY (Ernst & Young)  is a good example of this leadership transition underway–about 60 percent of its managers are Millennials, as well as 18 percent of its senior managers.

  1. Video will become an even more important recruiting tool.

The use of video to attract and recruit talent is increasing because of its high impact—it’s an engaging way to show the culture of a company, as well as the excitement and passion around the the company’s mission, products and services.  Expect to see more employee videos shot on cell phones, to give a more authentic peek inside a company, as well as personalized recruiting videos, video job descriptions and, yes, even video job offers.

  1. Recruiting will be more data-driven.

The technology available to recruiters today is better than it’s ever been, allowing them to optimize the entire recruiting and hiring process, from job descriptions to the process of nurturing and interviewing candidates, to developing and setting compensation. Letting data guide the hand of recruiters will most likely make the experience better for job candidates, allowing companies to better establish and nurture relationships with both current and potential candidates.

  1. The Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S. will see the most hiring.

According to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, states in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Southcentral, as well as the Central Midwest will see the greatest uptick in hiring, as much as a 40 percent increase from last year. In fact, regional employers will be increasing their hiring by the greatest percentage next year, nearly 20 percent over 2015. U.S. employers, the Institute’s new trend report says, “are entering the recruiting season with very high expectations for hiring.”

About the Author

Eilene Zimmerman is a journalist who writes about entrepreneurship, technology, small businesses and the workplace. She was a career columnist for the New York Times and is a regular contributor to the paper’s small business section.

The Classroom of the Future!

The Classroom of the Future

The Classroom of the Future

The Physical Space

The days of classrooms where a teacher desk sits at the front of the classroom and students’ desks are neatly aligned in rows are over. Learning technologies, and changing pedagogical methods, are not only changing the way we teach but also the physical environments we teach in. The role physical environments play in our learning is just beginning to be studied and understood. Akinsanmi (2011) asserts that “there is little research on the role the physical environment plays in the learning process” but more and more educations theorist and psychologists are beginning to offer perspectives “from which designers can conceptualize the creation of an optimal learning environment” (The Optimal Learning). One thing that is clear from the research of the physical spaces which make up learning environments is that current classrooms seldom facilitate 21st century learning.

Image taken from:
external image wordle_may_25th.png

A study done by the Herman Miller Company (2011) on adaptable spaces and their impact on learning identified four key constructs that affect student learning; Basic Human Need, Teaching, Learning, and Engagement. Herman Miller assert that there is a “pedagogical value of a comfortable chair” and that by “recognizing the impact that physical comfort has is support of pedagogy, and designing flexible, comfortable learning spaces enhances the experience of both faculty and students.” When classroom furniture is easily moved to allow for comfort and practicality students’ learning experience was heightened with increased seating comfort (32%), being able to clearly understand the professor (14%), and view materials (17%). Besides students being better serviced by redesigned and malleable classrooms educators also reported the benefits of increased lighting, better access to internet connections, improved ability to hear students and having more whiteboard space (p. 3,5).

The research summary also highlighted the fact that with regard to teaching “emerging discoveries about how people learn, rapid advancements in technology, and heightened awareness of student expectations” were what caused the most pedagogical changes and in order for teachers to take advantage of these changes teaching spaces must be able to utilize new technologies and have classroom “flexible enough to accommodate different teaching styles”. Adaptable learning spaces also better facilitate learning especially since the “meaning of knowing has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find it use it and contextualize it.” Marc Presnsky describes how students no longer prefer large lecture halls and instead desire learning spaces that “allow them to get to know one another, engage in dialogue, work independently or in groups on projects…get or provide private feedback [and] seek a collaborative environment that fosters understanding and learning” (Herman Miller Company, 2011, p. 5-6). Prensky’s quote perfectly illustrates why classroom spaces should no longer be static but should be easily adaptable to fit whatever activity or pedagogical method the teacher chooses to deliver that day’s lesson in.

Lastly adaptable learning spaces make it easier to engage students by allowing for the quick and easy configuration of classrooms to facilitate different kinds of activities. Students who participated in classes held in classrooms designed around adoptable spaces ideas reported being 24% more engaged in class and 23% more likely to feel that communication was better facilitated while teachers describded how it was easier to integrate teaching methods (22%), easier to use technology while instructing.The figures below are also taken from the study and show just how effective adaptable spaces are.

“Additional insights came from evaluating faculty and student perceptions about
collaboration and fostering a sense of community or belonging within the Learning

Yahoo images

Studio. Students reported they are:
• 16% more likely to feel comfortable asking questions
• 28% more likely to be able to conduct group work
• 20% more likely to feel the classroom presents the appropriate image for the college
• 22% more likely to feel valued
The results from faculty were even more supportive. Faculty members are:
• 32% more likely to agree that collaboration between students is better
• 24% more likely to agree that collaboration between faculty and student is better
• 44% more likely to believe the Learning Studio conveys the appropriate image
• 47% more likely to feel valued (Herman Miller, 2011, p.8-9)”

Classrooms designed using adaptable learning spaces adhere exactly to what Askinsanmi described as removing “the focus from the teaching wall and creating the ambiance of a favorite grandma’s living room, thereby providing an emotionally safe, comfortable and visually stimulating environment” (p. 6). When students are comfortable, sitting in a room that they feel caters to their needs they are more willing and able to learn. Hopefully as our ideas about how to instruct students continue to change and evolve so will the way we setup and decorate our classrooms.

Below is a diagram taken from Herman Miller Company Research Summitry which illustrates student and facility experience in physical learning spaces.

external image student%20and%20faculty.png

Below are two pictures showing some of the learning spaces described by Herman Miller.

external image ex13591.jpg………………………………..external image ex1340.jpg
Both images taken from:

The Pedagogical Place

Besides the physical layout of the classroom changing so will the tools we use to instruct students. As Heather Edick asserts “there is increasingly sophisticated technology to come” which will benefit teachers “in terms of resource management and the opportunity to tap sources of knowledge that would not have been available because of geographical barriers” (Edick, Visions of the). Besides technology’s increased use in the classroom of the future another major change “is an emphasis placed on learning models that support the active construction of knowledge and skills.” Instead of educational environments and instruction being passive “there has been a shift…to environments in which the learner actively explores the world and constructs their own internal models of understanding (Classroom of the, 2006).” Classrooms of the future will no longer be little factories where we “can find teachers encouraged (and often compelled) to mass produce learning and marginalize the differences in aptitudes, interests, and abilities” which no longer “prepare students for the fast changing global society they will inherit” (Fielding, Lackney, Nair, 2011).

The Human Computer Interaction Lab (2006) completed a study which anticipated the development of “new embedded technologies that can be a seamless part of any physical object in schools” which can then be used to support learning” (Classroom of the). One example of technology being used to facilitate learning when it is viewed as a “constructive and social activity” is the internet. As the internet “increasingly gained in popularity as a communication channel” and Web 2.0 applications become more common “attention switched to social interaction and its relevance for learning” (Mäkitalo-Siegl, 2010, p. 3). An example of this might be students using a curation tool such as to sort and evaluate information before sharing it with others or collaborating on a Wikispace page with another student, both of which focus instructions on the active construction of knowledge and building communities and social interaction. In the classroom of the future technology will no longer limit collaboration and community thinking solely to the inside of the classroom but will allow for these activities to occur outside the classroom in the real world. Students could learn Chinese “using a large HDMI monitor and High Definition sound system, along with a web connection…[and instructors] could take them on virtual field trips once a month, wearing a wen camera that shows students sites, such as the Wall of China” while also allowing them to practice their Chinese with native speakers (Edick, Visions of the).

In addition the classroom of the future will facilitate learning by using technology-enhanced objects while also “building communities in virtual and physical learning spaces.” By embedding technology into “familiar every-day devices” it makes the technologies easy to use while also turning them “into tools for effective and motivating learning.” An example of this might be having students complete concept maps on a whiteboard or laptop or by having students use StoryTable to collaborate while making a story. An example of a “knowledge-building community” existing both inside and outside of the classroom is a project called CIPHER (Communities of Interest to Promote the Heritage of European Regions) which “constitutes a multidisciplinary community in the field of digital cultural heritage.” The project uses “advanced technology and the digital tools applied in the creation, recording, and preservation of cultural heritage…[with] collaboration taking place between different groups and communities, such as universities, local schools, and museums” to produce the artifacts used in the project (Mäkitalo-Siegl, 2011, p. 5-7). A classroom designed to allow this kind of learning would need space for collaboration to occur, access to the technologies that allow for the creation of artifacts and would look remarkably different from the look of most classrooms today.

The classroom of the future might also be paper free as laptops and other educational technology allow for the elimination of paper. As laptop and tablet computers become cheaper in the near future instead of teachers copying handouts and exams to give to students they will be ‘pushed’ online to students. All students will carry laptop computers which will include textbooks, eliminating textbooks, heavy backpacks and lockers, while also making for a cleaner classroom environment. The use of laptops and tablets could also allow for students to keep electronic portfolios enabling them to “add comments and reflections based on an artifact at any time.” The portfolios could also be used during parent teacher conferences by allowing the teacher to share students portfolios “via SMART board or a tablet and explain the student’s progress to the parents using the portfolio” (Edick, Visions of the).

The classroom of the future is a space, both physically and pedagogically, in flux. The physical spaces which make up the classroom, the educational technologies we use, and the teaching pedagogy we subscribe to are not static and as educators it is critical for use to continue learning about what the classroom of the future will look like. No matter what state or country we teach in these changes will affect us all. As Makitalo-Siegal et al (2010) assert “teachers themselves should be more open to new pedagogical models and the development of technology as well as be willing to regularly update their knowledge by participating in in-service education and reading current research literature” (2010, p.7).

Top Ranking Online Colleges from BEST SCHOOLS

For more information:

California Online Colleges : Interviews of the Best Accredited Schools

Throughout the state of California, there are 36 different colleges offering at least one fully online bachelor’s degree. We narrowed down this list to accredited universities that have at least one fully online bachelor’s degree. Then we crunched the numbers to see how these schools are performing.

We wanted to figure out what makes an online degree program successful for students, engaging for faculty, and sustainable for the university. So we surveyed the top schools using the Best Schools methodology and interviewed admissions directors. Along the way, we learned all about California’s rich history in online education, and the continuing commitment to serving the underserved.

The Top 10 Online Colleges in California

1. Brandman University
2. California Baptist University
3. CSU East Bay
4. CSU Chico
5. Hope International University
6. National University
7. CSU Dominguez Hills
8. Touro University
9. California College San Diego
10. Golden Gate University

We interviewed three of the top 10 colleges in California and this is what we loved about them :

  • #1 Brandman University ​for their adoption of online learning for all students.
  • #3 CSU East Bay​ for their rapid growth and future plans.
  • #4 CSU Chico​ for their rich history and innovative delivery.

Deeply discounted tuition rates for both in-state students and active military students, make any one of these schools a smart choice for California residents looking to finish their college degrees.

Directory of California Online Colleges






Interview: Brandman University

Brandman University
Average In State Tuition: $500.00
Accreditation Status: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
Online Program Information:Website

Joe Cockrell

Brandman University offers online education programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels across thirty locations, and all faculty are trained to teach online. We talked to Joe Cockrell, Brandman’s Chief Communications Officer, about how online education has changed at Brandman and how they have been able to create a successful program for students.
Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:

  • Brandman has invested in creating a strong support system for students that consists of two major components: an academic advisor and a team to help with non­academic questions.
  • Approximately 25% of Brandman University students are either currently serving in the military or are veterans. Brandman specializes in educating non­traditional students.
  • There are several commencement ceremonies that online students may choose to attend for their graduation.

How did Brandman University first get into online programs?

It was a slow to move to online education. For us, online education is not simply taking materials and putting them onto the Internet. It requires a whole separate approach with everything from curriculum and academics, to student services and support.

One of the things we found working with adult learners, whether they are going online or on-­ground, they don’t have the time during the day like a typical college student who is going through the typical process like going to the registrar’s office, the financial aid office, etc. To serve online students, we need a good service model. We came up with what we call “The One Stop Team,” which is essentially our trained student service representatives who are the go­to people for anything students might need in terms of registrar, financial aid, resolving issues with their Blackboard, and that kind of thing. At traditional schools a faculty member is normally your advisor. Here at Brandman, all students have the same academic advisor all the way through their program. The advisor is a trained professional person, who makes themselves available either in person or via phone, email, or Adobe Connect. So, the advisor follows the student through their whole program and The One Stop Team are the people who assist students who have needs outside of academics.

How have the online programs evolved since you launched online education?

We wanted to make sure that all of this was in place for online learning to be successful. How this evolved, we started adding new programs that were available online. Of course, we’ve worked with our accreditor and they have to review everything thoroughly. It’s a long process.

We’ve incorporated Lumina’s Degree Qualification Profile (DQP) and AAC&U Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative outcomes into the general education and baccalaureate programs; changed course design process to include a team headed by faculty, as subject matter experts, and instructional designers / technology specialists, dedicated to each program; and established a Center for Instructional Innovation to provide faculty training, oversight of courses and continuous improvement.

Do students who are applying for one of your online programs have the same admissions criteria as your other students?


Is there a “typical” profile of a Brandman online student?

We serve non­traditional students. The typical student is a working professional. Almost 25% of our student body are active military or veterans. A lot of active duty students attend online from combat zones.

Also, we have moved to the blended model for all of our on-­the-­ground classes. What that means is if you attend one of our campuses and you come to class one night a week, you have supplemental work that you have to do online during the week.

The US Department of Education issued a meta-­study that the blended approach is the most successful approach. We have now made all on­-ground courses blended.

How have you tackled creating community with your students? Has the fact that so many of your students are in active duty changed how you create a community?

For most students, they interact with each other and faculty in Blackboard and discussion boards. Outside of that, we’ve created networking groups on LinkedIn. We think social media presents a great opportunity to do that. We’ve been experimenting with Facebook and LinkedIn because if you’re an online student, the only interaction you have with the university is on the website, by email, or Blackboard. This is one of those things that we’re continually looking at.

Some of our doctoral programs, like education and nursing, offer what we call “Immersion Sessions” where they do their clinical and internships in their hometown where they live, but they come to Irvine about twice per year over long weekends.

Who teaches online courses?

Most, if not all, of our faculty teach on­-ground and online classes. Because of the blended model, all of our faculty have to be trained in online courses. As a result, most of our faculty are able to do both. We have a number of adjunct faculty who teach in the fields they are experts in. What we try to do with adjuncts is use what’s called “practitioner faculty” where they are experts in the field they are teaching and they have at least a master’s degree.

Are diplomas and transcripts for online students the same as on­-ground students?

Yes. One thing people like is that it doesn’t designate on your degree if you earned it online. The metrics for what you have to accomplish are the same.

Can any Brandman student walk at graduation?

Yes. I think we have seven different commencements. We have twenty­six campuses and four co-­locations. A co-­location is where we have a presence at a community college so community college students can come right to Brandman without having to leave the campus where they have done their community college work. It allows them to start working on their bachelor’s degree while they’re still in community college. Six of our campuses are located on military installations. So, we have a graduation ceremony for each of those military campuses and two big ones for Northern and Southern California.

I’ve seen a lot of online students at graduation. The cool thing about online students coming to commencement is that they’re getting to meet some of their faculty and classmates for the first time face­-to-­face.

Besides school accreditation, what would you tell a prospective online student about what to evaluate when determining what school to go to?

I would also encourage students to look at the graduation rates of a school, whether they are for-­profit or non­profit, and the student loan default rate because that’s core informational data about the health of a university. It signals the value of that degree. You want to make sure you’re attending a school with strong graduation rates and low default rates. I also recommend reaching out to your family and friends and asking people for their advice. There is inevitably someone who has gone to school online. Don’t just look at advertising.

Interview: CSU East Bay

CSU East Bay
Average In State Tuition: $162.40
Accreditation Status: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
Online Program Information:Website

CSU East Bay serves the eastern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, including Oakland, Concord, and Hayward. The online program has an interesting benefit for regional students: they don’t have to fight the Bay Area traffic. All California residents benefit from CSU East Bay’s steeply discounted in-state tuition. Currently, they offer five online degree programs, but that number is expected to grow as those programs expand.

Steve Andrews
We sat down with Steve Andrews, the Marketing Manager for the College of Business and Economics and a marketing professor in the department. He talked about some of the things that make CSU East Bay stand out.
Here’s the rundown:

  • They invest in teacher training. All online instructors take a course to help them navigate the differences between the traditional and digital classrooms.
  • Because people want to avoid commuting to on-campus locations in Bay Area traffic, enrollment in the online programs are growing rapidly.
  •  Students have a dedicated advisor for all academic issues, and IT support for technical issues.

How are admissions requirements different for online and on­-campus students?

Admissions criteria for the online program are similar to our on ground program, the exception being that we want them to have finished more of their lower division requirements, as we don’t offer these as part of the online degree completion program. Students should speak with an advisor early on so they can prepare themselves accurately for transition from junior College into the program, or to see which gaps in their education need to be filled before they can move into the program.

What are some ways that you ensure a high quality online experience?

Many of our faculty have gone through the Online Learning Consortium course which focuses on creating online learning communities—something which is much more difficult than teaching in person. Effective strategies include introductory discussion boards for students to get to know each other, and some faculty use live office hours and chat rooms to give students a sense of community. Like on­ground classes, students are expected to collaborate on group projects, and from experience teaching in the program, you see students bonding and taking classes with people they’ve met through other online classes, who maybe they’ve worked on a project with before and have confidence in the person’s ability.

Students have support at several levels, they have a dedicated advisor for all academic issues, they have access to the university’s IT support for any technical issues, and faculty are attentive to the needs of their students in online office hours and asynchronously by email.

How have the online programs grown at CSU East Bay?

The program has grown at a rapid pace over the last couple of years, and we expect to see it continue to grow. Graduations from the program have doubled from one year to the next for the last 3 years and we expect to see a continued growth as we introduce new options. Once we offer an accounting option, a marketing and an HR option we expect to see even greater growth.

We want to grow at a rate that’s sustainable and continue to offer the quality of education we have so far. One of the things we’ve done recently is brought on an online learning coordinator who is going into all of the classes and checking to make sure they meet the right criteria. We’re also promoting faculty to take part in online courses, and have them certified. We don’t want to add extra electives and options to the program until we can be sure of their quality. We don’t want people just reading from powerpoint slides. That’s not good for students. What we’re trying to do is replicate the on­-ground experience as best as possible.

How have the students changed over the last few years?

Students have changed in that initially we had a lot of students who had started their bachelor’s on ground at our Hayward campus before not being able to finish their degrees, so we had quite a few local students, now we see a much bigger interest from other areas of California, and potentially we could see greater interest from around the USA in the coming years.

Do online students receive the same diploma as on­-campus students?

There’s no difference. We have set learning outcomes for courses. The coursework is pretty much the same between an on­-campus and online class. The syllabus is similar, and only the way you deliver it is different. The diploma is the same.

What recommendations do you have for prospective students as they look at different online programs?

Get in contact with the programs to see what they’re doing. Every couple of months we do a webinar where students can get a glimpse of what a class looks like. They can talk to administrators with the program, and in our next webinar, we’re bringing on a student and an alumnus so they can have real contact with people that have been in the program.

It’s a little more difficult to have teamwork and collaboration digitally, but that’s the world we live in now. Project teams aren’t necessarily in the same office. They’re not always in the same time zone or country. That’s the reality that we prepare them for in the online program.

Interview: CSU Chico

CSU Chico
Average In State Tuition: $233.00
Accreditation Status: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
Online Program Information:Website

CSU Chico has a rich history of distance education, dating back to the 1960’s. Currently, its programs are designed to complement the existing California community college system. A student can enroll at a community college and earn a two year degree for a comparatively low cost. If the student wants to complete a four year program, CSU Chico has several fully online degrees.

We sat down with Jeff Layne to learn more about current and future online educational opportunites at CSU Chico. Jeff, the Director of Distance and Online Education, gave us a glimpse into CSU Chico’s rich history of online education.
A few things make CSU Chico unique:

  • CSU Chico’s program benefits from nearly 50 years of experience with online education.
  • CSU Chico offers degree completion programs designed to compliment a two year degree from a California community college.
  • Originally developed to provide college access to rural students, CSU Chico aims to serve the underserved.

What is the history of your online program?

Back in the 1960’s, the CSU system laid out which regional campuses could serve particular areas of the state. Chico’s area is about the same size as Ohio, but very remote and rural. Everyone’s spread out geographically.

We had a mission, even back in the 60s, to serve people in our region. We used to send people in cars up into the mountains, and over the course of a couple of weekends, they would teach a three unit class in a local town.

Back in the 1970s, we received a federal grant to put in microwave towers throughout the region. For a while, we were sending a signal of our classes into these small towns. Those students gathered in room, typically at a community college, and watched televised lectures. They participated by calling the classroom.

When our degree completion programs moved to online delivery in 1999 the sense of community decreased. During the last sixteen years, as social media tools have been created, students are now able to make connections. They also build a sense of community in the University’s Learning Management System through discussion boards and other tools. Additionally students keep connected through online communication tools like Google Hangouts and Skype.

Who teaches your distance education programs?

The courses are usually taught by the same faculty that teach on campus.

What is the online student profile at CSU Chico, and how has it evolved over time?

The majority of students admitted to our programs are female and over 25. That has remained constant through the years. The students we attract are the students that are going to do well. They are more mature. They know exactly what they want. They’re very focused on their degree.

Students are definitely more tech­savvy than when we started offering online degree programs in 1999. Dial up modems were how computers connected and YouTube was still six years from being launched. We were delivering many of our lectures through video streaming. The student login information we provided was deliberately very detailed. What has not changed is how grateful students are that we offer online degree completion programs.

What is the online classroom like?

We’ll have a classroom full of students on campus, and we’ll video feed that class to another group of 50­70 students remotely. We videostream the lecture so they can watch it just like they would on YouTube.

What else should a student know about your program?

We have a lot of support systems here on campus. The faculty see it as their mission to serve underserved students. Not just in the rural areas, but everywhere.

Our online program graduation rate is comparable to our on campus graduation rate. This is because the students we attract are the students that are going to do well. They are more mature. They know exactly what they want. They’re very focused on their degree.

Highlights of the Top Ranked California Colleges

California has a strong public school system with a great reputation and a number of prestigious private universities for students to pick from. While some of the most familiar names in California higher education are lagging behind when it comes to online learning, we still found an impressive list of colleges in the state offering fully online degree programs.

Unfortunately, many of the schools we found with the best online degree programs come at a high cost. On the plus side, our research suggests your investment won’t be wasted. These schools have strong reputations, a wealth of online degree programs to choose from, and national recognition for their programs.

Brandman University
Letter grade: A-
Average in-state tuition $500 per credit hour
Website: Link

Brandman University tops our list because they combine a solid reputation with a massive selection of online degree programs. The college has shown a real commitment to online learning – all of their faculty members are trained to teach online. So students know they’ll get teachers with the same knowledge and skills as their on-campus counterparts.

The emphasis on online learning makes sense for the school, as a large portion of their student body is made up of nontraditional students. They’ve made a real effort to understand the distinct needs of these students and develop a service model that works for them. They have what they call a “One Stop Team” of student service representatives available to help students with any questions and needs they may have.

The one big downside to Brandman University is the cost – that’s where the minus in our grade comes in. In most other states, that $500 per credit price tag would knock them further down the list, but many of the other impressive colleges in California are comparably priced. The 53 fully online bachelor’s and graduate degree programs they offer helped balance out the cost to give them the top spot.

Placements on other rankings

  • US News Online Bachelor’s 2014 Ranking: 41
  • US News Online Bachelor’s 2015 Ranking: 31
  • WA Monthly 2013 Ranking: N/A
  • WA Monthly 2014 Ranking: N/A
  • Forbes 2014 Ranking: N/A
California Baptist University
Letter grade: B+
Average in-state tuition $495 per credit hour
Website: Link

While California Baptist University unfortunately shares Brandman’s issue with cost (it comes in just $5 per credit hour less than our top college), they’ve got a lot of good things going for them to help make the price tag worth it. With a graduation rate at 58% and a retention rate at 78%, they beat out just about every other school in the state in both categories.

They also offer a nice, long list of fully online degree programs – 33 total. Online students can choose from most of the mainstays: accounting, business, marketing, education, counseling, and many more. To top it all off, they perform well on the US News list of best online programs, which suggests a strong reputation that students can count on.

Placements on other rankings

  • US News Online Bachelor’s 2014 Ranking: 37
  • US News Online Bachelor’s 2015 Ranking: 23
  • WA Monthly 2013 Ranking: N/A
  • WA Monthly 2014 Ranking: N/A
  • Forbes 2014 Ranking: N/A
CSU East Bay
Letter grade: B+
Average in-state tuition $162.40 per credit hour
Website: Link

California State University East Bay makes our list largely because they have the most attractive tuition rate of any of the schools we researched in California. At less than half the cost of our other two top choices, the school is a great pick for the more value-minded California students.

They only offer 9 fully online degree programs at this time, but those include some of the most popular subjects for online learning, like business and education, along with a couple of more niche areas, such as hospitality and tourism.

Their graduation and retention rates are decent: 38% and 75%, respectively. And they managed spots on both the US News and Forbes college rankings lists this year, meaning we’re not the only ones noticing the quality they offer for the value.

Placements on other rankings

  • US News Online Bachelor’s 2014 Ranking: N/A
  • US News Online Bachelor’s 2015 Ranking: 153
  • WA Monthly 2013 Ranking: N/A
  • WA Monthly 2014 Ranking: N/A
  • Forbes 2014 Ranking: 537

The Next Highest Scoring Colleges (4th-10th place)

4. CSU Chico: B+
5. Hope International University: B
6. National University: B
7. CSU Dominguez Hills: C+
8. Touro University: C+
9. California College San Diego: C
10. Golden Gate University: C

Additional California Colleges

The University of California system has seven campuses ranked in the current US News and World Report’s listing of the nation’s top 50 colleges. Several of these campuses offer online courses both for college credit and personal enrichment.

Starting in Fall 2014, the California Community College Online Education Initiative (OEI) began a pilot program aimed at expanding online college education across the state, reducing the costs of earning a college degree, and improving retention rates among students enrolled in online college courses. Two-dozen community colleges signed on to participate in the program through 2016.

Foothill College

Foothill College
Summary: Foothill College is one of the California community colleges actively involved in the OEI.
Website: Link

At Foothill, you can earn your associate’s degree entirely online. They have degree programs in accounting, anthropology, art history, economics, general studies, graphic and interactive design, history, humanities, music or music technology, psychology, sociology, and women’s studies. The associate’s degrees can then be used towards a bachelor’s degree from one of the universities in the California State system.

Butte College

Summary: Another participant in the OEI pilot is Butte College.
Website: Link

You can view a list of the courses they are currently offering on their Distance Education website.

California State University

Summary: California State University offers several online degree programs through different campuses within the university system.
Website: Link

Cal State offers bachelor’s degrees in business administration, applied studies, quality assurance, computer science, and information technology. Cal State also has a master of public administration degree with concentrations in criminal justice policy and administration, health care policy and administration, and public and not for profit management. It is also possible to earn a master’s degree in instructional science and technology. The Cal State system offers a large number of online courses that can be applied to traditional on-campus degrees.

University of California – Los Angeles

University of California - Los Angeles
Summary: Many of the University of California campuses offer individual online courses, as well as certificate programs.
Website: Link

For example, the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) offers a number of online coursesthat can apply towards a degree. Online certificates in subjects such as communications, education, information systems, real estate, writing, English as a second language, and building and construction are available at UCLA.

University of California – Berkeley

University of California - Berkeley
Summary: University of California – Berkeley offers a number of undergraduate courses and certificate programs online through UC Berkeley Extension.
Website: Link

Formal admission to UC Berkeley is not required; these courses may be taken after completing a simple registration form.

University of Southern California
Summary: The University of Southern California (USC) offers a large number of online graduate programs.
Website: Link

USC offers graduate degrees in business, communication, education, computer science, technology, medicine, library science, social work, pharmacy, psychology, public policy, and geographic information science.

Online College Admission Requirements in California

For most online programs, you will need to gain admission to the university or college offering the coursework. However, some programs may have their own admissions procedure, so it is worth reviewing the requirements for the programs you are considering.

For example, Cal State requires all students to have completed at least 60 hours of course credit prior to applying to its online bachelor’s degree programs.

Tuition for California Online Programs

California boasts many highly ranked schools; therefore tuition for online programs at public universities in California is higher than in many other states.

For UC online courses, students register for online courses separately from on-campus courses, and pay tuition rates that vary between courses.  Depending on the course, number of units, and host campus, cost per course can range from $99 to over $3000. The average cost of courses is between $700-$1000.

At Cal State, tuition varies depending on the type of program and the campus where it is offered. For Cal State undergraduate programs, resident tuition is $5,472 per year for students enrolled in more than 6 units per term and $3,174 for those enrolled in 6 or fewer units. Out of state students must also pay $372 per semester unit or $248 per quarter unit. For graduate programs, the cost of tuition is $6,738 for more than 6 units and $3,906 for 6 or fewer units. Each CSU campus has mandatory fees that all students must pay, and these vary by campus.

Scholarship and Financial Aid Information

Though most scholarships apply equally to both online and on campus coursework, students are advised to contact the institution at which they plan to complete an online degree to ensure their scholarships will apply as needed. You may be able to apply financial aid to your University of California online courses if you are taking both online and on-campus coursework to total full-time enrollment. Furthermore, there may be financial aid available to those enrolled in a professional certificate program, such as the ones found at UC Berkeley.

Other places to look for financial aid for online programs in California include:

Accreditation Information for California

Attending an accredited online program may be important for your particular degree. Coursework from accredited programs is also more likely to be accepted as transfer credit at other institutions.

The  WASC Senior College and University Commissionaccredits colleges and universities in California.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation provides a directory of accredited schools and programs.


As the calendars moves forth, so do we at Passion In Education/The Bridge Virtual Academy.
Questions? Contact:

Teaching Digital Natives!

Ed Tech Is Poised to Go Mainstream

By Sari Factor

Six hours a day. That’s how much time the average teenager spends online, according to a June 2013 study by McAfee. These are “digital natives,” a generation that has grown up online and connected.

Just think about it: students born in 2007, the year the iPhone was launched, are already in first grade. Students born during the dot-com boom of the late ’90s are in high school.  These students have never known a world without the Internet. They’re communicating 140 characters at a time, establishing completely new ways of consuming news and information.

Clearly, dictating to digital natives that they “power down” in school is a huge turn-off. Yet many adults express concern that students won’t be able to learn as effectively in classrooms that are fundamentally different from their own experiences. Educators are increasingly breaking through that resistance to create a learning experience using technology to engage today’s learners and improve outcomes, with benefits that include:

Personalizing the learning experience – Digital natives have grown up surrounded and stimulated by media, and they consume information very differently from the previous generation of students. Netflix NFLX -0.05%, playlists and DVRs have fueled their personalized entertainment, and technology makes personalized learning possible too. Any teacher can tell you how difficult it is to customize instruction for every student. Inevitably, they end up “teaching to the middle,” leaving some learners behind and failing to challenge those who have already mastered a concept. Technology allows teachers to tailor instruction to meet individual student needs, making learning more accessible and enabling all students to maximize their potential.

Learning how to learn – Being a lifelong learner is the most important attribute for success, and will grow in importance in our dynamic and competitive world. Today’s students will change careers multiple times throughout their lives – many studies suggest Americans will hold between fifteen and twenty jobs over the course of their careers – and the jobs these graduates will hold may not even exist yet. Knowing one’s own learning style and developing the self-discipline and grit to grasp new skills throughout a lifetime will be critical for digital natives – especially in the fast-paced, distracting information landscape that is their natural habitat. Using technology to conduct research and acquire new skills can help these students develop the most essential capability in the information economy: how to learn.

Putting students in charge –Technology-based platforms and tools can provide students constant feedback so they understand how they’re progressing relative to their own goals, their peers, and their teachers’ and parents’ expectations. A clear road map of progress can be motivating for the student and immensely valuable for the teacher, who can intervene early or help a student advance more quickly. By empowering students and making them directly responsible for their progress, online learning encourages habits of resourcefulness that will serve students well once they leave the classroom.

Helping students disconnect from the Twitter-verse and spend more time on task – The more time students spend focused on their course work, the better their academic performance. With online learning, no one can hide in the back of the classroom, so every student is accountable. Rich multimedia content and interactive activities in many of today’s technology-based curricula offer familiar, friendly terrain for digital natives and can keep students more engaged and focused on their work. Over time, students get better at shutting out distractions and staying on task, even when they’re not in school – an extremely valuable skill in this media-saturated age.

Encouraging constructive communication – Digital natives are growing up in a social media landscape where multi-directional dialogue is commonplace. Yet the classroom too often remains a one-way street where the teacher imparts knowledge and students are expected to absorb it. Technology can help broaden the discussion by connecting students and teachers, and by opening the doors to outside voices that can lend additional knowledge and expertise to the classroom.

The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation forecasts that 50% of high school classes will be online by 2019. For some, this may sound worrisome, but resistance to education technology will begin to break down as people see how eagerly today’s digital natives embrace learning online. The use of technology presents an undeniably radical shift in the business of education, but skeptical and concerned adults alike should take comfort in the fact that in many ways, ed tech also embodies a return to the basics. The skills that technology-based instruction can impart to today’s digital natives – self-reliance, perseverance and resourcefulness among them – have a distinctly retro feel. In an increasingly distracted, text and tweet-addled, short attention span world, these skills will be indispensable for the students of today and tomorrow.

Sari Factor is CEO of Edgenuity, an online and blended learning company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., currently used by nine of the 15 largest school districts in the U.S. Follow on Twitter @Edgenuityinc



First Total Lunar Eclipse of 2014: MORE TO COME!

First Total Lunar Eclipse of 2014: The Complete Skywatcher’s Guide

By Joe Rao, Skywatching Columnist   |   April 14, 2014 05:00pm ET

Editor’s Update for 6 am ET, April 15: The peak of the first total lunar eclipse of 2014 has ended. For our latest story and the amazing photos of the lunar eclipse, read: Under a Blood Moon: 1st Total Lunar Eclipse or 2014 Wows Stargazers: Photos

No enthusiastic skywatcher misses a total eclipse of the moon, and if weather permits tonight, neither should you.

The phases of the April 14-15 total lunar eclipse are shown with GMT timestamps in this NASA image from a video guide. The total lunar eclipse will affect two NASA spacecraft orbiting the moon since they rely on sunlight for power.
The phases of the April 14-15 total lunar eclipse are shown with GMT timestamps in this NASA image from a video guide. The total lunar eclipse will affect two NASA spacecraft orbiting the moon since theyrely on sunlight for power.
Credit: NASA

The spectacle is often more beautiful and interesting than one would think. During the time that the moon is entering into and later emerging from out of the Earth’s shadow, secondary phenomena may be overlooked. You can alsowatch the eclipse live on, courtesy of NASA, the Slooh community telescope and theVirtual Telescope Project.


Observers that know what to look for have a better chance of seeing the stunning eclipse, weather permitting. This first total lunar eclipse of 2014 is set to begin tonight (April 14) into the wee hours of Tuesday morning (April 15). The lunar eclipse is set to begin at about 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT), and it should last about 3.5 hours. The eclipse should be visible, weather permitting, through most of North America and part of South America. [Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15: Visibility Maps (Gallery)]

This NASA graphic shows where the total lunar eclipse of April 14-15, 2014 will be visible from. The lunar eclipse coincides with April's full moon and is the first of four total lunar eclipes (a tetrad) between April 2014 and September 2015.

This NASA graphic shows where the total lunar eclipse of April 14-15, 2014 will be visible from. The lunar eclipse coincides with April’s full moon and is the first of four total lunar eclipes (a tetrad) between April 2014 and September 2015.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Here is’s full guide for what to expect during all stages of the eclipse:

Diagrams explain how eclipses work.
A series of four total lunar eclipses in a row is called a tetrad. See how four blood moons of a total lunar eclipse tetrad work in this infographic.
Credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist

Stage 1 @ 12:53 a.m. EDT: moon enters penumbra — The shadow cone of Earth has two parts: a dark, inner umbrasurrounding by a lighter penumbraThe penumbra is the pale outer portion of Earth’s shadow. Although the eclipse begins officially at this moment, this is in essence an academic event. You won’t see anything unusual happening to the moon — at least not just yet.

Earth’s penumbral shadow is so faint that it remains invisible until the moon is deeply immersed in it. We must wait until the penumbra has reached roughly 70 percent across the moon’s disk. For about the next 45 minutes the full moon will continue to appear to shine normally although with each passing minute it is progressing ever deeper into Earth’s outer shadow.

Stage 2 @ 1:39 a.m. EDT: Penumbral shadow begins to appear — Now the moon has progressed far enough into the penumbra so that the shadow should be evident on its disk. Start looking for a very subtle light shading to appear on the moon’s left portion. This will become increasingly more and more evident as the minutes pass; the shading appearing to spread and deepen. Just before the moon begins to enter Earth’s dark umbral shadow the penumbra should appear as an obvious smudge or tarnishing of the moon’s left portion.

Stage 3 @ 1:58 a.m. EDT: Moon enters umbra — The moon now crosses into Earth’s dark central shadow, called the umbra. A small dark scallop will begin to appear on the moon’s left-hand (eastern) limb. The partial phases of the eclipse begins, the pace quickens and the change is dramatic. The umbra is much darker than the penumbra and fairly sharp-edged.

As the minutes pass, the dark shadow appears to slowly creep across the moon’s face. At first, the moon’s limb may seem to vanish completely inside of the umbra, but much later, as it moves in deeper you’ll probably notice it glowing dimly orange, red or brown. Notice also that the edge of Earth’s shadow projected on the moon is curved. Here is visible evidence that the Earth is a sphere, as deduced by Aristotle from Iunar eclipses he observed in the 4th century BC. It’s at this point that deep shadows of a brilliant moonlit night begin to fade away. [‘Blood Moons’ Explained: What Causes a Lunar Eclipse Tetrad? (Infographic)]

Timetable for the 12 stages of the eclipse: AKDT = Alaskan Daylight Time. HAST = Hawaiian-Aleutian Standard Time. (Arizona does not observe daylight time, so use PDT). An asterisk (*) indicates p.m. on April 14, but all other times are a.m. on April 15. D

Timetable for the 12 stages of the eclipse: AKDT = Alaskan Daylight Time. HAST = Hawaiian-Aleutian Standard Time. (Arizona does not observe daylight time, so use PDT). An asterisk (*) indicates p.m. on April 14, but all other times are a.m. on April 15. Dashes means that the moon has set below the horizon.
Credit: Joe Rao/

Stage 4 @ 2:49 a.m. EDT: 75 percent coverage — With three-quarters of the moon’s disk now eclipsed, that part of it that is immersed in shadow should begin to very faintly light up, similar to a piece of iron heated to the point where it just begins to glow. It will become obvious that the umbral shadow is not complete darkness. Using binoculars or a telescope, its outer part is usually light enough to reveal lunar seas and craters, but the central part is much darker, and sometimes no surface features are recognizable. Colors in the umbra vary greatly from one eclipse to the next, Reds and grays usually dominate, but sometimes browns, blues and other colors can be spotted.

Stage 5 @ 3:01 a.m. EDT: Less than five minutes to totality — Several minutes before (and after) totality, the contrast between the remaining pale-yellow sliver and the ruddy-brown coloration spread over the rest of the moon’s disk. This may produce a beautiful phenomenon known to some as the “Japanese lantern effect.”

Stage 6 @ 3:06 a.m. EDT: Total eclipse begins — When the last of the moon enters the umbra, the total eclipse begins. No one knows how the moon will appear during totality. Some eclipses are such a dark gray-black that the moon nearly vanishes from view. The moon can glow a bright orange during other eclipses.

The reason the moon can be seen at all when totally eclipsed is that sunlight is scattered and refracted around the edge of Earth by the planet’s atmosphere. To an astronaut standing on the moon during totality, the sun would be hidden behind a dark earth outlined by a brilliant red ring consisting of all the world’s sunrises and sunsets. The brightness of this ring around Earth depends on global weather conditions and the amount of dust suspended in the air. A clear atmosphere on Earth means a bright lunar eclipse. If a major volcanic eruption has injected particles into the stratosphere, the eclipse is very dark.


Moon Master: An Easy Quiz for Lunatics
For most of human history, the moon was largely a mystery. It spawned awe and fear and to this day is the source of myth and legend. But today we know a lot about our favorite natural satellite. Do you?
Full Moon over Long Beach, CA
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Moon Globe
12″ Moon Globe. Buy Here
Credit: Store

Stage 7 @ 3:46 a.m. EDT: Middle of totality — The moon will shine anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times fainter than it did just a couple of hours ago. Since the moon is moving to the north of the center of Earth’s umbra, the gradation of color and brightness across the lunar disk should be such that its lower portion should appear darkest, with hues of deep copper or chocolate brown.  Meanwhile, its upper portion should appear brightest, with hues of reds, oranges and even perhaps a soft bluish-white. [10 Surprising Lunar Facts]

Observers away from bright city lights will notice a much greater number of stars than were visible earlier in the night. During totality, the moon will be seen just a couple of degrees away from the star Spica in the constellation Virgo. Although Spica is one of the 21 brightest stars in the sky, before the eclipse begins the moon will almost seem to overwhelm the star with its light. But during totality, Spica will become much more conspicuous and its bluish color will contrast strikingly with the eerie, ruddy moon.

The darkness of the sky could be impressive. The surrounding landscape may take on a somber hue. Before the eclipse, the full moon looked flat and one-dimensional. During totality, however, it will look smaller and three-dimensional — like some weirdly illuminated ball suspended in space.

Before the moon entered the earth’s shadow, the temperature at the lunar equator on its sunlit surface hovered at 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius). Since the moon lacks an atmosphere, there is no way that this heat could be retained from escaping into space as the shadow sweeps by. When in shadow, the temperature on the moon  plummets to about minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 173 degrees Celsius), which equates to a drop of more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit (300 degrees Celsius) in only about two hours.



Moon Map
Laminated Moon Map.Buy Here
Credit: Store

Stage 8 @ 4:24 a.m. EDT: Total eclipse ends —The emergence of the moon from the shadow begins. The first small segment of the moon begins to reappear, followed again for the next several minutes by the “Japanese lantern effect.”

Stage 9 @ 4:41 a.m. EDT: 75 percent coverage—Any vestiges of coloration within the umbra should be disappearing now. From here on, as the dark shadow methodically creeps off the moon’s disk it should appear black and featureless.

Stage 10 @ 5:33 a.m. EDT: Moon leaves umbra—The dark central shadow clears the moon’s upper right hand (northwestern) limb.

Stage 11 @ 5:53 a.m. EDT: Penumbra shadow fades away —As the last, faint shading vanishes off the moon’s upper right portion, the visual show comes to an end.

Stage 12: Moon leaves penumbra —The eclipse “officially” ends, as the moon is completely free of the penumbral shadow.

Editor’s Note: If you snap an amazing picture of the April 15 total lunar eclipse, you can send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer’s Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y. Follow us @Spacedotcom,Facebook and Google+. Original article on