Online Classes for K-12 Students: 10 Research Reports You Need to Know

From Advanced Placement courses offered by state-run virtual schools to credit recovery classes delivered via third-party software, supplemental online education courses have exploded in K-12 education.

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To help policymakers, administrators, educators, parents,and students make sense of it all, Education Week published an overview explaining the many varieties of online classes now available to K-12 students. It’s part of our new special report on the state of classroom technology, which you can read here.

For those who want to dig deeper, here are the reports and research studies that have shaped what we know about the still-murky field of K-12 …

 

Here’s everything you need to know about buying the right leather shoe

Leather shoes can last for quite long if they are maintained well. Check the texture, insole and lining of the shoe before buying, say experts.

Ishaan Sachdeva, director at Alberto Torresi, and Tabby Bhatia, director at Voganow.com, share the following tips on how to go about buying leather shoes:

* One of the easiest ways to check the authenticity of leather is through touch. By pressing the texture of the leather – if it is real, the texture would seem wrinkled and pulled. Also, genuine leather gives more of a natural and swanky touch.

* Shoe fitting is the most important factor to be considered while buying leather shoes. A leather shoe – if made by an experienced craftsman — will not only fit you well, but seem like second skin. A good fitting shoe will last longer as the chances of it getting wrinkles or the shoe getting out of shape are ruled out.

Follow aesthetic and visual sensibilities while shopping for leather shoes. (Shutterstock)

* The insole and lining of the shoe also plays an important role. A perfect pair of shoes should have an extra padded insole. An extra layer of cushioning between the feet and the shoe makes the grip comfortable and sturdy. Genuine leather on the insole and lining helps the shoes last longer and also eliminates the chances of bad foot odour.

* Another important aspect of leather shoes is its fragrance. Leather shoes have a rich fragrance which is typical of leather and cannot come from fake leather. Also, genuine leather does not have odour of chemicals or plastic.

Genuine leather on the insole and lining helps the shoes last longer and also eliminates the chances of bad foot odour. (Shutterstock)

* Examining the details of the sole is also considered to be an essential element before investing in the shoes and can be an important quality indicator. There are varied types of soles ranging from rubber, leather sole, to extra light weight sole for longer walking hours. It is recommended that the soles of the shoes should be stitched to the upper surface rather than glued..

* Follow aesthetic and visual sensibilities while shopping for a pair of leather shoes. If the pairs are handcrafted or hand painted, one should analyse the finesse in terms of colour finishing and stitching details. The stitching should be neat and barely noticeable.

Leather shoes can last for quite long if they are maintained well. (Shutterstock)

* Check if the shoe has any kind of plastic coat or an extra unreal shine on it, which on the touch can make you feel that there is a layer between your touch and the material of shoe. This shiny coat applied to the leather shoe loses the shine with growing usage, and eventually not only peels off, but takes the colour coat with it – reducing the shoes’ life to one season.

 

Pride month: Here’s the beauty inspiration you need to celebrate all the shades of love

Bring out all the hues of the rainbow — it’s LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) pride month. Observed in June every year, the aim is to recognise the impact the LGBT community has had on the world and to also to celebrate individualistic sexuality. The month honours the 1969 Stonewall riots where the members of the community broke out in spontaneous protests against a police raid. Initially observed on the last Sunday of June, the LGBT Pride Day soon grew to include month-long events.

Supporters from all across the world show their love in all possible ways — from participating in events for the community and starting social media campaigns to posting pictures with their same-sex baes to dressing up their pets in colours of pride.

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Another route that many take is to go for #rainbowmakeup or #LGBTmakeup. Confused? Take a look. And, if you also want to join the pride wagon, start practicing!

 

10 Things You Need To Know Before Trying The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet has been quietly developing a cult following online. Maybe you’ve heard about it, or maybe you haven’t. The main thing you need to know about “keto,” the popular nickname for the diet, is that it’s high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb. Many people who have tried the diet say the results are unbelievable. It’s known to help with more than just weight loss, too, and has been credited to helping with diabetes, Lyme disease, epilepsy, and anxiety.

 

If you’re interested in trying the diet, here’s what you need to know first.

1. SAY GOODBYE TO CARBS.

‘Cause you can’t have ’em! Technically speaking, you will have carbs — about 20 grams (of net carbs) per day. The source of these carbs will be vegetables, probably. But the point of this diet is to get your body to stop running on carbs. So prepare to trade in pizza, bread, pasta, and even quinoa for salads, olive oil, avocado, and meat. BUT, before you say, “hell no, I won’t go,” know that you can have some of your favorites, like bacon, ranch dressing, and even butter.

Wait, is butter a carb? Kidding!

2. FAT IS YOUR FRIEND.

Fat is your new fuel. You’re going to need lots of it: roughly 90 grams per day, depending on your body and weight loss goal. Finding sources of good fat isn’t too difficult, though — just reach for some almonds, macadamia nuts, and avocado.

And forget everything you’ve heard about fatty foods and don’t even think about buying anything that’s low-fat; that’s the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve here.

3. IT’S GOING TO SUCK AT FIRST.

Think about it: Your body has to adjust to starchy carbs going MIA. You’ll probably experience something that people refer to as “keto flu.” Basically, when your body is going through the transition into ketosis, you’ll feel some flu-like symptoms—mostly headaches. But don’t worry, it won’t last too long.

4. BUT THERE’S BACON!

Bacon will get you through. Of course, having bacon every day isn’t a healthy choice, but having it at brunch will make you feel like you’re still a human while your friends scarf down waffles, home fries, and toast.

5. YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HALF-ASS THIS.

If you think you can just eat keto-friendly foods and that will be all it takes, you’re in for a real surprise. The truth is, you have to weigh everything you eat so that you can calculate everything you eat and keep track of your macronutrients. You’re going to have daily goals of how much fat, protein, and carbs you should eat, and if you don’t reach them, you won’t see any results. In fact, if you start stuffing your face with all the bacon and cheese you can get, you might actually gain weight. So don’t cut corners.

6. YOU’RE GOING TO BECOME OBSESSED WITH READING LABELS.

As part of the diet, you’ll have to check for net carbs (total carbs minus dietary fiber) on food labels constantly. It’s not really a bad thing, but get ready to be the person who says “there’s way too many carbs in that!”

7. YOUR SOCIAL LIFE MIGHT TAKE A HIT.

Going out to eat isn’t the easiest thing in the world. There are absolutely keto options on almost every menu, but you’re always going to be wondering, “what kind of oil was this cooked in?” Or “were these chicken wings breaded?” And nights out drinking with your friends? Be careful. You won’t have the tolerance you had before (on the plus side, you’ll save money on drinks) and you might not want to drink at all. Why mess up progress with alcohol?

8. SOME PEOPLE MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND.

It’s hard to explain keto to others. If you want to fully emerge yourself in the diet, you need to a lot about it. And trying to regurgitate all of that info to someone who isn’t on keto can be difficult. People will ask you why you want to deprive yourself of carbs, but you just have to keep your mind set on your goals.

9. YOUR STOMACH WILL THANK YOU.

I don’t just mean your abs — which will feel slim and less bloated. If you have stomach issues, like bloating, IBS, or just chronic food comas, you’ll feel so much better on keto. You won’t eat just to eat, you’ll eat to reach your daily intake goals. For a lot of people on keto, they say they don’t even feel hungry. Imagine that, being satisfied after your meal? #Goals.

10. YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND IN … THE INTERNET.

If you feel like none of your friends understand the diet, don’t worry about that. Not only can you google all of your burning keto questions, but you can find communities online of other people who are doing the diet. You can share recipes and success stories, struggles, and setbacks. You’re never alone.

 

Moto C Plus India Launch Set for Monday: All You Need to Know

The Moto C Plus India launch event has been scheduled for Monday, where Moto’s parent company Lenovo will announce the price and availability details of the handset. Moto C Plus was unveiled globally just a month ago, and is only the second smartphone in the new Moto C series. Aimed at first-time smartphone buyers, the Moto C Plus packs a 4000mAh battery and is likely to be priced less than the Moto E3 Power. Its sibling, the Moto C, has already been launched in India.

The company has also started creating hype around the next launch. On Wednesday, the company in a tweet wrote, “Yes, it’ll never let you run out of juice. Yes, it’s that charged!” accompanied by hashtags Moto C Plus and coming soon. Moto C Plus was launched at a starting price of EUR 119 (roughly Rs. 8,300) for 1GB RAM/16GB storage model.

Moto C Plus India Launch Set for Monday: All You Need to Know

Moto C Plus specifications
The Moto C Plus features a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display, and is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6737 processor coupled with 1GB or 2GB of RAM (depending on the variant). It packs 16GB inbuilt storage and supports expandable storage. For camera, the Moto C Plus sports an 8-megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 aperture, 1.12 micron pixels, autofocus, 71-degree field of view and an LED flash. It also packs a 2-megapixel front camera.

One of the biggest highlights of the Moto C Plus is its massive 4000mAh battery. It measures 144×72.3x10mm, and weighs 162 grams. The smartphone features capacitive navigation buttons at the front with no sign of a fingerprint scanner at the front or back. The speaker grille is seen at the back of the smartphone, while the 3.5mm audio jack sits on the top edge.

 

A Disney Prom Dress Collection Exists and You Need All of Them

Glitterati has teamed up with Disney to make a line of Disney Princess inspired prom dresses, and there are some really beautiful ones! And the price point isn’t too steep — I think? What do prom dresses go for these days? Anyway, these are all obviously ~loosely~ inspired, and so I took my best guesses as to which princess (or witch!) they might be for, but let me know where I’m wrong. Because I know I’m wrong.

Elsa-inspired gown? $450, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Cinderella-inspired gown? $570, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Ariel-inspired gown? $310, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Snow White-inspired gown? $378, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Belle-inspired or Tiana-inspired gown? $270, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Maleficent-inspired gown? $478, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Another Ariel-inspired gown? $498, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Snow White-inspired gown? $358, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Another Snow White-inspired gown? $378, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Another Elsa-inspired gown? $318, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Aurora-inspired gown? $570, Disney Forever Enchanted

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This one just appears to be glittery Jungle Book? $570, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Snow White-inspired gown? $398, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Sexy Belle-inspired? Or maybe Tiana?? $278, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Tiana? Belle? Pocahontas? $398, Disney Forever Enchanted

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Aurora-inspired gown? $510, Disney Forever Enchanted

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And finally, Elsa? Maleficent? Hmm…

GLITTERATI

Follow Laura on Twitter.

 

Online Classes for K-12 Schools: What You Need to Know

Millions of K-12 students now spend time taking online classes.

But what those experiences look like, the reasons such courses are offered, and the entities that provide them all vary tremendously.

And despite the rapid proliferation of online courses, it’s still hard to pin down how many students take part in different types of online-learning options, let alone how well they are doing.

So, what do policymakers, administrators, educators, parents, and students need to know?

What follows is an overview of the types of supplemental online learning you can now see in most schools and states, as well as a breakdown of what we know about how many students are taking advantage of such opportunities, and how well they are doing.

To keep things manageable, we’re not talking about students who attend school online full time (although you can certainly check out Education Week’s extensive coverage of the cyber charter sector.) Nor do we include here all the students in traditional classrooms who go online as part of individual lessons and school activities.

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What are supplemental online courses?

Full-time virtual schools tend to get most of the headlines. But far more students experience virtual learning via supplemental online courses, taken while they are still enrolled in traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

Sometimes, the courses involve real-time interaction among students and a teacher. Others allow individual students to move through material alone, at their own pace. Often, but not always, a certified teacher is responsible for managing online classes. The courses could come from a state-run virtual school, a private vendor, a nonprofit, a university, or a regional service agency. The variations can sometimes make it confusing to say what exactly constitutes an “online course.”

In general, though, there are three big reasons why schools offer these types of classes: so students can complete core academic credits, so they can take elective courses that otherwise wouldn’t be available, and so schools can give students a second crack at earning credit for a course they previously failed. The challenges include difficulty finding teachers who are qualified to teach online and the questionable quality of some online courses.

How many K-12 students take online courses?

Nobody knows. Few states formally track or report student participation in online coursetaking, according to the Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, at the American Institutes for Research.

The best guess comes from the Evergreen Education Group, a consultancy whose researchers used a variety of data sources to estimate that 2.7 million students took roughly 4.5 million supplemental online courses during the 2014-15 school year.

What is clear: Those figures have grown dramatically over the past 15 years. During the 2002-03 school year, for example, K-12 students took just 317,000 online courses, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Lawmakers have helped accelerate that growth in some places. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia now require all students to take at least one online course before graduating, and a handful of other states formally encourage students to do so.

Which students take online courses?

Nationally, it’s hard to say.

At the state level, Michigan offers the clearest picture.

During the 2015-16 school year, 6 percent of Michigan public school students (almost 91,000 from 570 school districts, plus the state’s full-time virtual schools) enrolled in a total of 453,570 online courses, according to the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. About 80 percent of those students were from traditional public schools.

Higher-performing students tended to take online courses at the state virtual school, whose offerings include Advanced Placement and honors courses. Lower-performing students tended to take online courses offered by their home districts, which often focused on credit recovery.

Last year, the institute also produced snapshots of course-enrollment patterns in virtual schools in Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, and a handful of other states. In general, more girls than boys took such courses. In several of the states, rural students were overrepresented in online courses.

Researchers with the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast, at Florida State University, also found that between 2008 and 2011, white students in Florida were more likely than their black or Hispanic counterparts to enroll in online courses. Students in Florida’s online courses were also less likely to be eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch, less likely to be in special education programs, and less likely to be an English-language learner.

Do students receive a high-quality education in supplemental online courses?

Overall, evidence suggests that students enrolled in supplemental courses at virtual schools perform the same or slightly better than their counterparts who take the same classes in brick-and-mortar settings, according to the National Education Policy Center. There is also some evidence that the courses improve student attendance and student engagement. It is less clear that online courses benefit the neediest students.

Questions remain, however, about the methodologies used in most evaluations of student performance in online courses.

Typically, researchers have examined the rates at which students complete or pass an online course, or student grades on end-of-course exams.

In its survey of seven state virtual schools, the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute generally found passing rates higher than 80 percent. Boys, urban students, and poor students tended to pass the online courses at lower rates than their counterparts. Students who took fewer online courses appeared to be more likely to pass than students who took several online courses at once.

What about online credit recovery?

That is when students are given a chance to redo coursework or retake a class they previously failed. While traditional summer school credit-recovery classes are still an option, many credit-recovery courses are now offered online.

How many students take online credit-recovery classes?

This may sound familiar: We’re not sure.

One reason is that “credit recovery” represents a hodgepodge of actual offerings. Many districts don’t track whether their students are taking online courses as part of a standard program or for credit recovery.

Here’s what we do know: As of 2011, 88 percent of school districts offered some form of credit recovery, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Most of those are believed by experts who study the field to use online content and online teachers or both.

What do we know about student performance in online credit recovery?

The research that exists is generally mixed.

In North Carolina, for example, REL Southeast found little difference between online and traditional credit-recovery courses.

In Florida, meanwhile, the same group found that high school students were more likely to earn a C or better when taking credit-recovery courses online, rather than face to face.

And Chicago tells the opposite story. In the most methodologically rigorous studies on credit recovery to date, the American Institutes for Research used randomized control trials to compare online and face-to-face credit-recovery programs for 9th graders taking Algebra 1.

Students trying to make up the credits via software from a third-party vendor scored worse on algebra tests, got lower grades, and were less likely to actually recover the credit they had previously failed to earn.

That doesn’t sound good.

Even proponents of online learning have been harshly critical about many online credit-recovery programs. A summary from a 2015 report produced by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) had this to say:

“Too often, credit-recovery ‘solutions’ have lowered the bar for passing. Among the worst offenders in this regard are some products and programs that call themselves ‘online.’ These are often computer-based software programs that are low-cost, have very low levels (if any) of teacher involvement, and require very little of students in demonstrating proficiency. They are used primarily because they are inexpensive, and they allow schools to say students have ‘passed’ whether they have learned anything or not.”

What other kinds of supplemental online courses are available to K-12 students?

Dual-enrollment courses, in which students can earn college credit by taking online courses from an institution of higher education while still enrolled in high school, are popular.

More than a dozen states also now offer “course choice” programs that allow students to take one or more online courses offered by someone other than their home district (although enrollment in many of these programs remains very low). Many alternative education programs—which often serve students who are overage, behind on their credits, and/or at risk of dropping out—also have a heavy online component.

In each case, comprehensive data on student enrollment and performance are limited.

What do we know about what works in online courses?

Keeping students engaged is key. A 2014 study by REL Midwest found that Wisconsin students who spent at least 1½ hours per week working on their online coursework typically ended up passing.

The quality of in-person instructional support also seems to matter quite a bit. That was certainly the case for the Chicago courses that AIR studied. Sometimes, such help can be delivered online, but experts say many of the best online courses include high-quality face-to-face instructional support for students.

Researchers have also found that students tend to get higher grades the more often they log in to the online-learning system, the more lessons they access, the more they click, and the more they post in online-discussion boards.

Where does that leave us?

In addition to better understanding enrollment and quality, much more research is needed on such issues as how online courses accommodate students with disabilities and whether online courses exacerbate the digital divide between students in poverty and their more affluent counterparts.

But given the prevalence of online courses, it no longer makes much sense to ask whether they are a “good” or “bad” option for students and families, according to researchers such as Tracy Gray, the managing director for the American Institutes for Research.

Instead, Gray argued, we should be asking “for whom does online learning work, under what circumstances, and what kinds of supports can make a difference?”

What you need to know about Apple’s new podcast analytics

The world’s biggest platform for podcasts is going to shed new light on the state of advertising in the space. On Friday, Apple announced it would soon begin offering podcast creators some rudimentary audience analytics.

Here is what you need to know about Apple’s announcement.

The state of podcasting:
• Podcasting started as an Apple-dominated medium, and it remains one. Nearly 80 percent of all podcast consumption happened on Apple devices in 2015, according to research by Clammr, though Google Play and Amazon’s Echo devices, among others, are eating away at that market share.

• Apple remains a dominant hosting platform for podcasts, hosting about 70 percent of all available podcasts, according to Adopter Media. Because of this, the analytics features teased last week won’t affect everybody in the industry, but it will affect the lion’s share.

• Measurement has been a persistent problem for podcasting as a medium. Podtrac, which compiles monthly statistics on show streams and downloads for creators including “This American Life” and HowStuffWorks, is limited to data creators offer voluntarily. This means some prominent podcast publishers, including The Ringer, aren’t counted.

• Podcasting has steadily marched into the mainstream. By the end of this year, more than a third of all Americans will listen to podcasts on a monthly basis, up from 20 percent in 2016, according to forecasts from Bridge Ratings Media Research.

• Because podcasts are a niche product and because of measurement limitations, podcasting remains a small market, about $200 million in the U.S. It is projected to grow to nearly $500 million by 2020, according to Bridge Ratings.

• The lack of audience data has also profoundly influenced the kind of advertising that supports podcasting. Ninety percent of all podcast ads have a direct-response component, according to Adopter Media.

• These analytics are likely being made available because more people are listening to podcasts immediately (77 percent), rather than downloading the files for later listening (27 percent), per Edison Research.

What it means:
While many podcast creators, including Recode cofounder Peter Kafka and Gimlet president Matt Lieber, see Apple’s announcement as a big deal, it still doesn’t put podcasting on the same plane as most other digital media for advertisers.

“There still won’t be good targeting data available,” said Karl Rosander, the founder and CEO of podcast platform Acast. “To really help publishers, Apple needs to share (i.e., get the data through an application programming interface for all verified shows) data with the hosting provider, not only through the publisher’s platform.”

The data that Apple will provide creators will be anonymized, which means that Apple-hosted shows still won’t be able to target people with the kind of audience data that ad buyers expect when using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

But as creators and advertisers accumulate more data about listens, it could wind up having profound implications for how shows are shaped. “Think of all the new jobs for audience dev folks in audio,” Hot Pod creator Nicholas Quah tweeted on Saturday.

As for whether it unlocks the brand advertising dollars that podcast producers have coveted for years, that remains to be seen.  “We are probably a year out from knowing what sort of meaningful audience data this will yield,” said Glenn Rubenstein, founder of Adopter Media. “It remains to be seen if this listener data will sway any of the larger advertiser holdouts who have supposedly been ‘demanding’ it.”