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Friday, July 15, 2005

Questions for those Involved in Virtual High Schools

One of the other blogs that is devoted to virtual schooling is Deciding About Schools Online (DAOS). I don't think that it would be unfair to characterize this blog as one with a specific agenda (as most blogs, and even websites, do). On its purposes page is states that it has two main purposes:
  1. DASO provides an accurate and regularly up-dated directory of those involved with deciding about e-learning in Ohio.
  2. DASO provides professional annotations of resources on the topic and links to written documents that these stakeholders have published regarding K-12 e-learning.

However, these purposes may not provide the agenda in as specific a way as some of the questions that were asked in a survey that was conducted at their site a while back. With stems such as:

  • The state subsidy for online schools should be the same as it is for all schools.
  • School districts should accept successful completion of an online course (replacing seat time) for the purposes of granting credit.
  • In the near future K-12 Schools will turn to the resources of the private sector in order to develop their own for-profit products and services.

These stems for the likert-style questions have led me to believe that DAOS is more interested in cyber charter schools than state-wide or public virtual schools (and to see where cyber charter schools can lead, take a look at Online Christian Education - an Alternative to Public Schools from the The Christian Post - I'll post more on this attempt to destory public education later I'm sure). I've posted trackbacks to their blog and I'm sure that they can correct me if I'm wrong.

I don't out them here because I think that this agenda is wrong (although I do disagree with the concept of charter schools, but that's neither here nor there at the moment - see my entries on Are Superintendents the Problem?, The Next Big Thing in Public Education?). I out them because in my reading of the DAOS blog, I don't see that agenda mentioned anywhere, and I think that's wrong. As I have stated many times in this blog in the past, my agenda is providing educational opportunities to rural school students within the public education system.

In any regard, around the middle of last month DAOS blog featured a couple of posts asking questions of specific groups involved in virtual schooling. For example, they posted an entry entitled "Questions for Policy Makers" that asked:

The questions that require attention (QAR's) for policy makers start with these:

  • How do appointed officials best communicate their understanding of e-learning?
  • What expectations should appointed officials have of e-learning?
  • How do elected officials discuss e-learning with their constituents who have experienced education in an entirely different context?
  • What should be the expectations for e learning in the context of a standards based reform movement?
  • What assurances exist that e-learning experiences will conform appropriately to teaching and learning standards at the state and federal levels?
  • Can e-learning assist students in making progress toward the goals of No Child Left Behind?
A few days later in a post entitled "Questions for Educators", they posted:
Among the questions that require attention by educators are:
  • How will these new schools alter the types of preparation needed by teachers?
  • In what ways will the communication between teachers and students change and what can teachers do about it?
  • How can the fact that a teacher is not in a building effect ongoing professional development?
  • Should there be certification issues associated with being a teacher in an e-learning environment?
  • What impact should virtual schooling have on colleges of education?
  • What guidance can content selection standards provide?
  • What different expectations should administrators have in shifting to an e-learning environment?
  • How will e-learning effect financial planning for administrators?
  • How will students in e-learning perform on standard tests—both formative and summative and what should administrators anticipate?
  • What avenues for job growth are there for administrators in e-learning?
  • How necessary is it that professionals in e-learning be trained online?
  • What drives the professional development train—using content or using technology, and in what combination?

Regardless of their agenda, these aren't bad questions for the most part. The only problem that I see are scope and number. How many educators have the time to sit down and consider all twelve of these questions, let alone actually come up with answers for all of them...

So, I ask you today in looking at these questions... If you fall more into the policy-maker category, which two questions do you see as the most burning right now? And, do you have any thoughts about your responses to those two questions?

If you fall more into the educator category, which two questions do you see as the most burning right now? And, do you have any thoughts about your responses to those two questions?

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