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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Teaching in a Virtual High School

Okay, I know it has been a few weeks since I posted here, but between the end of the semester, a quick holiday out of town and the beginning of Maymester, things have been a little hectic around here.

Anyway, I know that I have read through this publication before (see http://www.sreb.org/programs/EdTech/pubs/PDF/Essential_Principles.pdf), but it came to me again this past week in the form of an ERIC document (see http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED477169). Basically, this publication describes a "checklist for selecting, preparing and evaluating online teachers for K-12 students.

The items include:

State Qualifications

1. The teacher meets the core professional-teaching standards established by state licensing
2. The teacher has the necessary academic credentials in the field in which he or she is teaching.
3. The teacher has the prerequisite technology skills to teach online.

Curriculum, Instruction and Student Assessment

1. The teacher assesses each student’s background and content knowledge before beginning instruction.
2. The teacher uses appropriate technology to teach the online course successfully.
3. The teacher uses fair, adequate and appropriate methods to assess students’ mastery of content.
4. The teacher demonstrates high-quality writtencommunications skills.
5. The teacher makes clear to students his or her availability and willingness to support them.
6. The teacher facilitates and monitors appropriate interaction among students.
7. The teacher provides and enforces appropriate standards for student behavior.
8. The teacher’s instruction complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
9. The teacher uses online resources effectively to deliver instruction.
10. When appropriate, the teacher gets others to assist him or her in supporting students’ learning.
11. The teacher adapts the Web-based course to meet students’ needs.
12. The teacher promotes student participation and interaction.


1. The teacher ensures that students know one another and feel comfortable interacting with one another online.
2. The teacher provides students with timely feedback.
3. The teacher ensures that students’ work and data are secure.
4. The teacher monitors students to ensure academic honesty.
5. The teacher helps students with technical issues.
6. The teacher coordinates and assists students in understanding course requirements and procedures for working online.
7. The teacher guides and monitors students’ management of their time.
8. The teacher shares information about student progress with mentors, principals and parents.


1. The teacher understands that student success is an important measure of course success.
2. The teacher accepts and follows policies and procedures to monitor courses.
3. The teacher ensures that students participate actively in the course.

The reason why I present this here is because, when I went to meet with the folks from the Georgia Virtual High School a few months back, one of the things we talked about was how to evaluate online teachers.

In a traditionally sense, an administrator would come into your classroom and sit in the back of the room while you presented a lesson that you probably spent more time planning than you would normally spend planning a week's worth of lessons. The administrator would have a checklist that they would go through, making notes in the margins or in the spaces provided and when it was all over, you'd arrange a time to meet with them to go over what both of you observed, how you both felt about it, and areas to continue doing and areas to improve upon.

How would that look for a teacher in a virual high school? Would the SREB checklist be sufficient? Is there any other literature out there on the subject? What are existing virtual high schools doing?

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Anonymous Derek Wenmoth said...

welcome back from your break!
Thanks for posting and commenting on this paper - I found it very interesting, particularly as I'm in the proccess of working with others in NZ to establish some "success indicators" for eLearning at the K-12 level.
I'd have to say that the list you've summarised here doesn't grealty excite me - it simply creates an image of the teacher as the "sage on the stage" all over again, the "fount of all wisdom" dispensing lessons in the form of resoources to be consumed. The list even uses one of the words I've been trying to eliminate from my eLearning vocabulary because of the way it reinforces this notion - the word is "delivery".
What I'd like to see in such a list is more evidence of the teacher acting to inspire learners, to elicit creative and innovative approaches to learning, and engaging with learners to co-construct the curriculum and learning pathways - and assessment strategies.
Call me an idealist - but if we genuinely believe that today's student think differently (note your posting of a month or so ago) then we need to be thinking very differently ourselves about the way in which we approach teaching and learning online.
In my experience, failure to think like this results in examples of online teaching that reflect the worst of an 'instructivist' pedagogy, that fails to truly engage today's learners.

4:47 AM  
Blogger MKB said...


I agree with the instructivist nature of this checklist. I also don't like the fact that it is all just a checklist, that there is no room for other opn-ended items.

I recall the time I was evaluated as a classroom teacher, the form was primarily a checklist format, but it was all likert scale and was like seven pages long. It also included eight diffeent places for open-ended responses by the administrator observing me.

You mentioned that you're currently working on trying to establish some success indicators in New Zealand. What types of things are you looking for?


9:16 AM  
Anonymous Derek Wenmoth said...

a colleague and I are at the end of a four year project in which we've looked at the concept of intecgrating ICT (technology) into classroom practice. As a result of our extensive interviews with teachers, principals and obervations in classrooms, we've come up with an online tool that assists teachers to evaluate their use of ICT in their teaching practice. We're probablyt just a couple of weeks off being able to link you to this work at present, but it is very open ended, and invites teachers to use self selected examples of their classroom practice as the basis for responding to a variety of questions - at the ned of which they are provided with a summary output that provides more of a reflection of what they're doing rather than a judgement. We've had very positive reponses from the trial schools we've worked with, and are now liaising with our Ministry of Educaiton to make it publicly available on the web
Will keep you posted

5:23 AM  
Blogger MKB said...

Thanks for the follow-up Derek... I'm going to see if I can't find out how other virtual high schools are handling this issue and report back to you...


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