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Monday, October 24, 2005

First Day of the Virtual School Symposium

Well, I'm in Denver at the Virtual School Symposium - sponsored by North American Council for Online Learning this year. This afternoon I did my session on the Evaluation of the Illinois Virtual High School Course Development Process. As a summary of my own session, some of the major themes that came out of the evaluation included:
  • Overall, course developers are pleased with their experience in developing courses for the Illinois Virtual High School.
  • The Illinois Virtual High School course development process is fairly open-ended with a lot of room for developers to create the kind of course that they want to create, which was both a good and a bad thing.
  • Approximately half of the Illinois Virtual High School courses were developed by a team of two or more developers and this has worked well in some instances and not so well in others.
  • The course developers for the Illinois Virtual High School were trained as teachers and unable to utilize the technology of the web to its fullest capacity.
  • As the Illinois Virtual High School begins to use the Syllabuild Tool to standardize their course development process, the freedom to design the look and feel of their courses was one of the things that the course developers enjoyed.

The issues raised from these themes and the evidence that supported them, lead to five recommendations:

  1. Create a structure for the course development process so that the IVHS, eCollege, and the developer are under the same impressions when it comes to the nature of the assistance that can be provided and the expectations of all parties within the specific deadlines of the course development process.
  2. Divide the course development process into timed segments that describe the nature of the deliverable due at the end of each period, with partial payment for the successful delivery of each of the segments.
  3. If the IVHS continues to use a team of developers for a single course, determine a method of select team members that will work well together.
  4. Provide training in multimedia software for course developers or split the course development process so that technical developers can add multimedia components to courses after the content has been developed.
  5. Any tool used to guide the development of course developers needs to be open enough to allow for the creativity of the developer.

I also attended two sessions from presenters from the Virtual High School in Concord, MA. I'll have more to say about them tomorrow or Wednesday, along with the 2005 version of Keeping pace with K-12 online learning: A review of state-level policy and practice. Until then...

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