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Friday, January 13, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Again from a bunch of different sources this week. From Edutopia News - the electronic newsletter from The George Lucas Educational Foundation.


All over the country, secondary school students are going online for classes. Will the virtual classroom redefine what it means to be a student -- or a teacher?

By Christina Wood

Katarina Williams is an ambitious tenth grader in Haines City, Florida, shouldering the full burden of college-prep coursework: trigonometry, English, Earth-space science, economics, and American government. But trig is the only class that requires her to sit in a traditional classroom. The others she attends via modem, without leaving her house.

Williams, a student at the Florida Virtual School, is part of a new generation of students trading textbooks for text messaging. Nearly 300,000 high schoolers attended online classes in 2002-03, estimates Eduventures, an independent research firm. Most take an online class or two to obtain access to classes not available at their local school, gain a competitive edge when preparing for college, or accommodate a jammed schedule. A few, though, are so convinced of the efficacy of online instruction that they've abandoned traditional schools.

Read the full article about the burgeoning online-learning movement from the April 2005 issue of Edutopia magazine, the award-winning publication of The George Lucas Educational Foundation.


Online Charters Woo Students

The number of online schools in Ohio has grown considerably in recent years, and students at top-rated schools in the state are enrolling in an online charter school despite the virtual school's poor academic rankings.


Want to learn more about the online-learning phenomenon? An Edutopia special report on this international trend features profiles of model programs and interviews with students, teachers, and experts.


And fromour Google News Alert service for virtual school and for cyber school.

Virtual high school to stay put
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription) - Milwaukee, WI, USA

Computers will remain powered up for students in the School District's virtual high school after the School Board approved a revised five-year contract at a meeting Wednesday. The future of iQ Academies at Wisconsin, the Waukesha-based school that provides online instruction to students around the state, had been in doubt after School Board members raised concerns about a projected deficit at the end of the school year. As it is, the school is expected to post a $604,000 deficit for the year ending in June. But revisions to the district's contract with KC Distance Learning, the private company that manages the school, mean that the district won't incur further debt even if iQ doesn't add enrollment for the next school year, district officials said. [See all stories on this topic]

Lt. Governor Perdue appoints Bruce Friend to lead NC Virtual's ...
Carolina Newswire (press release) - NC, USA

Lt. Governor Bev Perdue, Chair of the State’s Business Education Technology Alliance, announced the appointment of Bruce Friend to lead North Carolina’s Virtual High School efforts at a meeting of the State Board of Education today. “Bruce Friend comes to NC with the experience and background we’re looking for to lead our efforts to create a first class Virtual High School that will serve our students from the coast to the mountains,” Perdue said. “Friend comes to this position having been Chief Academic Officer and Chief Administrative Officer of the Florida Virtual School where we played an integral role in the implementation of online learning. NC Virtual’s Board believes that Bruce Friend is the right person to lead our efforts to create the best Virtual School in the country for North Carolina’s kids.”

Violent video games feed unhealthy ideas to young kids
TheNewsTribune.com (subscription) - Tacoma, WA, USA

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold trained on the violent video game Doom to rehearse for the carnage of Columbine. One week before the worst school massacre in American history, I predicted on NBC’s “Today” that the triple school homicide in Paducah, Ky., would be followed by other such killings and that Doom would be the virtual reality rehearsal simulator of choice. Unfortunately, I was correct. After Columbine, the FBI and the Secret Service found that the teen perpetrators in all the then-recent school killings were immersed in violent entertainment, especially violent video games.

His task: Updating schools
Boston Globe - United States

Officially, he reports for duty next Tuesday, but Haverhill's new school chief is already busy thinking up ways to improve the city's public schools. Introducing Internet-based courses and a magnet school for science and math at the high school are two of the ideas Raleigh Buchanan said he hopes to explore with his new colleagues. Others include developing a strategic plan for the system, grappling with the city's high dropout rate, and introducing a program for gifted high school students that focuses on international issues.

Blazing a virtual-school trail
Corvallis Gazette Times - Corvallis, OR, USA

Oregon’s first online charter school, run by the Scio School District,gets good marks from the mom of one of its students. Jefferson Warner sometimes starts his fourth-grade class in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon. Sometimes, if he’s especially restless, he skips it altogether. The flexibility in the Lebanon boy’s schedule is what his mother, Shawna, loves about Oregon Connections Academy, the “virtual” charter school that’s now part of the Scio School District.Jefferson is one of 692 students — none of them from Scio — who have enrolled so far in the state’s first wholly online public charter school.

Cyber bills are adding up for Venango school districts
Oil City Derrick - Oil City, PA, USA

Cyber charter school enrollment has topped 100 this year for the four Venango County public school districts, and while the districts have set aside nearly $1 million to pay the tuition bills, it may not be enough.
Combined local enrollment in the cyber schools, which provide instruction to students via the Internet, has jumped by 15 to 112 since last year. About 97 Venango County residents were enrolled in cyber school programs last year, up from about 87 the previous year. [See all stories on this topic]

We'd like to hear from cyber students
Oil City Derrick - Oil City, PA, USA

Cyber school students do not ride a bus or attend a brick and mortar school, do not take part in a typical gym class or eat lunch in the school cafeteria, and cannot be sent to the office if they are tardy or misbehave.
Rather, they "attend" school at home via the Internet. They receive and complete assignments, take quizzes and tests, consult with instructors and "participate" in class discussions, all over the Internet.

Area Schools Weigh Costs And Benefits
Yankton Daily Press - Yankton, SD, USA

... In addition, the "Cyber-Soph" program provides about 30 randomly-chosen sophomores with laptops, he said. "Those sophomores work with laptops the school has ... [Unable to get complete preview, as site requires free registration]

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