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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Statistics for February

I forgot to include it last month, but the hit counter on my blog is currently at 4051. The last time I recorded this was around 9:30pm on New Year's Eve and it was at 3268 then. This is an increase of 78 over the past two months.

According to my statcounter, there were 327 unique visitors to this blog in February, 282 of which were first time visitors and 45 were returning visitors. This is an average of 12 per day.

While 90% of these visitors came from the United States, I also had visitors from Canada, Malaysia, the US Virgin Islands, Romania, Netherlands, Turkey, and New Zealand.

They came to read:

Finally, outside of the "Next Blog" feature that Blogger has, it appears that Google blog search provided me with much of my new traffic this month.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

The Google news alert for cyber school.

AV Board grapples with deficit
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

The district will have to tighten its belt this year to make up for a deficit, officials said. Business manager John Zenone is projecting a $350,000 to $400,000 deficit by the end of the year. He said the district is currently about $262,000 over budget. Several factors contributed to the deficit. In addition to rising gas costs, one big factor is several unplanned commercial property tax refunds amounting to about a $200,000 loss for Allegheny Valley, Zenone said.

Group claims bias in charter school rejection
philly.com - Philadelphia, PA, USA

Supporters of a charter school proposal that failed to win approval last month are crying foul that the school district's decision process was tainted because a competing charter operator was on the panel that rejected their proposal. Supporters of the proposed Northern Liberties Charter School are so dismayed that they are calling on members of the state Legislature to review the system's charter application process and plan to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. today in front of the school district's administration building on North Broad Street.

Jeff-Morgan sets stage for Internet access between districts
Uniontown Herald Standard - Uniontown, PA, USA

The Jefferson-Morgan School Board entered into a four-year contract between the school district and Intermediate Unit (IU) 1 that will set the stage for high-speed Internet access and interconnectivity between all school districts in Greene, Washington and Fayette counties that enter into the agreement. The school board entered into the contract that begins on July 1 of 2007 and ends on June 30 of 2011 at their regular meeting Tuesday night. The benefits the network will offer to students, teachers and parents are numerous, according to the school district's technology coordinator, Adam Swinchock.

Learning another language
Kannapolis Independent Tribune - Kannapolis, NC, USA

Students in several Cabarrus County-area schools can look forward to new languages to learn during the 2006-07 school year. Both Cannon School and Carolina International School will add Chinese language courses to their curriculum, while A.L. Brown High is adding Latin and Spanish for Native Speaker classes. The Harrisburg-based CIS, which teaches students in grades K-8, instructs all of its students in Spanish, while Cannon School in Concord currently offers Spanish, Latin and French programs.

The Google news alert for virtual school.

Serving parents and children
Arizona Daily Star - Tucson, AZ, USA

Parents are finding they can take control of their children's education by choosing where they go to school, and schools are tailoring their programs to attract the choosy parents with a critical eye. With the increase in charter schools and school choice in Arizona, more parents are exercising the opportunity to shop for their child's education through careful research and financial planning. The results include a school free of cliques, a small or rural classroom setting, or strong programs aimed for specific types of students.

Workshop tours Christian schools, gives practical helps
Florida Baptist Witness - Jacksonville, FL, USA

Moving beyond the “why’s” of starting a Christian school to presenting a hands-on approach with “how-to” strategies and resources, the Christian School 101 workshop in Orlando got off the ground Jan. 30-31 after being postponed following the second of back-to-back major hurricane seasons in Florida. The workshop was sponsored by the Orlando-based Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, and the Florida Baptist Convention. Founded in 1979, SBACS is an alliance of Christian schools affiliated with Southern Baptist churches, claiming about 100 member schools out of the approximately 650 schools based at SBC churches, according to the ministry’s executive director, Ed Gamble.

Chat with Randy Weseman, superintendent of Lawrence's public ...
Lawrence Journal World - Lawrence, KS, USA

Welcome to our online chat with Randy Weseman, superintendent of Lawrence's public schools.
The chat took place on Wednesday, February 22, at 1:30 PM and is now closed, but you can read the full transcript on this page. Moderator: Hello and welcome to today's chat with Supt. Randy Weseman, the top administrator for Lawrence's public schools. I'm Dave Toplikar, World Online editor, and I'll be moderating today's chat.

Virtual Iraqis at USC: Don't Shoot the Puppet
LAVoice.org - Los Angeles, CA, USA

Here's a nifty little computer-graphics project from USC's Information Sciences Institute, which has been developing and providing street-diplomacy training simulators for soldiers headed to Iraq. They've built a facial-expression engine into computer games for soldier-trainees - a module that adds emotions and gestures to the faces of the virtual Iraqis who help them learn foreign language and customs. In the face of roadside bombs and real bullets, the value of joysticking your way through a training simulation as a fake soldier against fake civilians like this may seem questionable.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

More On Ohio

Regular readers may remember November and December entries on the state of cyber charter schooling in Ohio - see "Cyber Charter Schools and Ohio" and "DAOS Link Removed".

Well, you may be interested in the update from vSKOOL.org: Linking Hurricane Victims to Online Educational Resources on The Response to Online Learning in Ohio.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Another Not So Surprising Revelation

Again in mid-January, I posted a piece entitled "Virtual Schools Not Generating Revenue" and this was after I had posted "An Article of Interest " a month earlier. Now, surprise, surprise, I see in my bloglines earlier this month another entry about virtual schooling and revenue - Speaking of Online Education and Money from vSKOOL.org: Linking Hurricane Victims to Online Educational Resources.

This one is more about the troubles that Pennsylvania is having with charters and their for-profit orientation towards public education, but an interesting perspective nonetheless.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Mandatory Virtual Schooling

Another trend that I have noticed in the past month or so has been the idea or the push to get students in online courses. This began with a post that I made back in mid-January entitled "Requiring Virtual Schooling". I see this trend has continued:

As I continue to read these items, and maybe it is only in Michigan that people have fallen off their rockers, but I also pick up on these contradictory pieces from Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~ Edu_RSS Most Recent - RSS old - " Students prefer online courses" (CNN) and Fear of Failure in the World of Online Learning. The first one is a CNN piece that talks about how students prefer online courses for their flexibility, the opportunities they offer, etc.. The second piece talks about how, unlike in the traditional classroom where teachers can pick up on some of the signs that students are just not getting it, because of the lack of these visual cues in the online environment students are more in danger of failing without any warning signs to the teacher.

But maybe the issue is larger than just preference and a different nature of teaching styles. An interesting piece entitled "How the Mind Makes Meaning in E-Learning" also from Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~ Edu_RSS Most Recent - RSS old considers some important issues of cognitive science and how learning actually takes place in virual environments that everyone involved with virtual schooling needs to become more aware of, myself included.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

This week's Google news alert for virtual school.

Students may soon get chance to attend public school without ...
Fulton Sun - MO, USA

Students across Missouri may get the opportunity to enroll in the state's 525th public school district - one without walls, bullies or extracurricular activities - by next year.Known as a virtual school, students would be considered pupils in their respective districts but would attend classes from their homes through the use of the Internet. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would be responsible for the education.

School board eyes items at long meeting
Baldwin City Signal - Baldwin City, KS, USA

Monday's Baldwin Board of Education meeting was packed with a virtual school proposal, air quality problems, bus and dirt work bids, district-wide reports, one patron complaint and an audit report. The item at the meeting that drew much attention and time was the presentation from Insight Schools, which is a privately-funded virtual school company.

Virtual School sets sessions for parents
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (subscription) - Little Rock, AR, USA

The Arkansas Virtual School, a program of the Arkansas Department of Education, is hosting parent information sessions this month for families interested in ... [Limited description due to subscription requirement.]

Learning online and at home
Beloit Daily News - Beloit, WI, USA

“A-E-I-O-U.” Six-year-old Nathan Walker rapidly blurted out his vowels. As a kindergartner, Nathan should be learning phonics. But, Nathan already knows how to read. Joanne Walker smiles. Though proud, she is reluctant to brag about her son's smarts. But, she said, she and her husband, Jerod, did notice their eldest son - when in preschool - was learning rapidly for his age.

Education secretary outlines state's 2010 Initiative
The Capital Journal - Pierre, SD, USA

Dr. Rick Melmer, state secretary of education, offered the Pierre School Board information during their Monday meeting about the state’s 2010 Initiative and other education-related issues that state lawmakers are currently considering.According to Melmer, the 2010 Initiative for education is divided into three programs: Starting Strong, Finishing Strong and Staying Strong. Starting Strong includes screening for 3-year-olds to determine whether they are on schedule for normal child development and preschool programs sponsored by school districts.

Electronic high school gives self-starter students alternative
Salt Lake Tribune - United States

Virtual teachers have the luxury of wearing fuzzy slippers, beginning class at midnight, or traveling to exotic destinations while giving important instructions to their students - quite unlike traditional classroom teachers who wear the requisite attire and stand in front of the classroom on a specific day and time. The virtual teachers in question work for the Electronic High School (EHS) in Utah, and their principal, Richard Siddoway, oversees this online school based in Salt Lake City. They seem to have it all, but they, too, face challenges when setting up their course curricula and dealing with the students and overall student success in the virtual realm.

This week's Google news alert for cyber school.

District officials say proposed increases are not sufficient
Waynesboro Record Herald - Waynesboro, PA, USA

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed budget includes a 5 percent increase in state funding for public education, but some Franklin County school districts would get considerably less than that. Rendell's proposed budget calls for a 2.2 percent increase in basic education funding for the Waynesboro Area School District and a 2.1 percent increase for the Tuscarora School District, while Greencastle-Antrim School District would receive 6.3 percent more in state dollars in the upcoming fiscal year. [See all stories on this topic]

School boards facing major budgeting challenges
Clarion News - Clarion, PA, USA

“I think the budgeting this year is going to be a real challenge,” Allegheny-Clarion Valley Superintendent Patrick Lukasavich Ed.D. told the school board last month. North Clarion Superintendent Rodney Hartle said he has looked into the averages of past budgets and said he believes the district can expect an expense increase of 3.2 percent with the two major issues in the budget being the cost of natural gas and healthcare.

Guardian Angels look at Kingston
Mid-Hudson News - Newburgh, NY, USA

Leaders of the Guardian Angels will be meeting with Kingston City and school district officials later this week to discuss a future role for the New York City-based street safety group in that city. Kingston Alderman Leonard Walker invited the group to meet with local officials because of his concerns about the poor graduation rate in Kingston schools. [See all stories on this topic]

WHAT TO DO ABOUT 'CYBER BULLIES'
Sussex Sun - Sussex, WI, USA

The National Crime Pre­ven­tion Council calls it "repeated and uncalled-for aggres­sive behavior, or, quite simply, unpro­voked meanness." Bullies have learned that bullying works. It makes them feel powerful and in control. Some bullies might also see it as a way to become popular, look tough and "in charge," get atten­tion, achieve social status or make others afraid of them. A bully might actually be the victim of abuse or have other underlying problems that cause his behavior.

Cyberspace new realm for bullies' fear tactics
Palm Beach Post - Palm Beach, FL, USA

Two freshman girls from a school in Palm Beach County logged onto Match.com and created a profile for a teacher they didn't like. Under interests they wrote "hard core porn." An unpopular kid that cheerleaders made fun of stole one of the girl's buddy list, an online address book of her friends' screen names, and offered it back in exchange for sexy pictures.

Residents speak out on proposal to close local elementary school
Centre Daily Times - Centre County, PA, USA

Penns Valley Area school district residents showed up in force at Wednesday's school board meeting with two questions on their minds: How much are my taxes going to go up next year and is Gregg Township-Spring Mills Elementary going to be closed? "Please don't close my community school," Dustin Zettle, 8, said during the public comment portion of the meeting. The second-grader at Gregg Township-Spring Mills Elementary said, "I hear people talk about money, taxes and that my school has good test scores. I'm too little to know about all that stuff, but I do know that we at Spring Mills Elementary are getting a good education and that is what is important to us."

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

More Blogging Items About High School Students in Online College Classes

Over the past few weeks, even a month, I've seen a lot more items in my Bloglines account about secondary school students who have enrolled in dual credit, advanced placement, or simply college level courses in an online environment while still in high school. These have included:

I've also seen some items on how online learning has opened up opportunities for rural students, not all of which have been at the secondary level. For example:

See, for me, these are the reasons why we should have virtual schooling... To provide opportunities for students to excel beyond the confines of their own high school experiences. To allow students access to opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise we able to take advantage of.

One of the questions then becomes, how do we structure an environment so that these students will be successful? I believe this is where the ideas from this paper, Evaluation of an Online Student Induction and Support Package for Online Learner -Catherine M O'Donnell,Deborah J Sloan, Clive W Mulholland, EURODL (which I found at Online Learning Update), comes in.

While not necessarily the solution, this particular paper discusses and evaluates an online student induction and support package which is utilized with both face-to-face and online to prepare them for learning online. An interesting read and something that we all need to consider more... How do we get students, who we are designing these opportunities for, better prepared to not just take advantage of them, but succeed in them?

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Schooling Not Matching Our Students

I have posted entries in the past about student learning styles and how instruction, and virtual instruction, needs to cater to (or at least consider) these differing styles (see These New Students of Our's for the latest of my thoughts on this idea, and The Committed Sardine Blog has an interesting perspective on this too at Millennials Rule The Web). In any regard, I am reading a number of entries lately that are discussing things other than learning styles that are affecting the students that we currently have, and will continue to see, in our K-12 school system.

For example, Pupils Must "Look Away" To Think at The Committed Sardine Blog discusses recent research that indicates that students who are not looking at the teacher or the book or the whiteboard may not be actually daydreaming, but may be carefully considering the topic - and in fact may be able of this careful considerations without physically looking away.

There have been a number of entries that have talked about how the way in which we have our schools set-up, in terms of start and end times, may be counter-productive to the sleep and thinking patterns of students, particularly teenagers (see Schools Waking Up To Teens‚ Unique Sleep Needs at The Committed Sardine Blog and Sleepy teens at joannejacobs.com).

There is also recent research that indicates that how we have looked at the way the brain works in recent history may be incorrect (see Is the mind like a computer? Evidence that it is not at elearnspace).

There are even people talking about the priorities that both parents and students have these days. The busy kids at Number 2 Pencil is an excellent example how even the priorities of school-ages children and their parents are not focused upon what goes on inside of the classroom.

I raise all of these issues, as they are seemingly unrelated, except in one way - they all speak to how the nature of our traditional schools are not set-up in a way to effectively serve the students of the third millennium. My question is how does virtual schooling fit into this picture?

The story of high school junior Domenic Pontoriero in Online or in the classroom? - Susan Thomas, US Oracle (from Online Learning Update) is a good example of how virtual schooling can be used to facilitate tha transition to these new realities for the students of today. Stories like this may be the reason we see the growth in virtual schooling (see my own entry on New Virtual Schooling Programs, along with new items such as H.S. Students Study Calculus via Distance Learning - Georgia Institute of Technology , More S.D. students taking classes online: Increasingly, lecture halls are losing out to Internet - RANDY HASCALL, Sioux Falls ArgusLeader, and High schools offering online college courses: Worth the work - Tracy Frank, The Forum all from Online Learning Update; Idaho Virtual Academy Awarded Accreditation From Northwest Associate of Accredited Schools, Students leave top-rated schools for online charter programs, and Vote favors virtual school all from Distance-Educator.com's Daily News; and Students prefer online courses from Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes).

Is virtual schooling the answer? Is this a way to replace sme or all parts of the traditional school day for these students? Can it be used as a supplement for some students, but not all?

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Friday, February 10, 2006

What Will Schooling Look Like?

In the past, I have asked on this blog what schooling will look like in the future and what role will virtual schooling play in that system. This past month a number of people have been engaging in this idea of the "Classroom of 2015" - or what will a classroom look like a decade from now? See Classrooms of 2015 at Cognitive Dissonance, Classrooms of 2015— Am I that Cynical? at Cultivating Minds, Classrooms of 2015 at Remote Access, and Will Classrooms Be Obsolete in 10 Years? at Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~ Edu_RSS Most Recent - RSS old.

This line of discussion is in keeping with another entry made at Remote Access entitled What are Schools For? This gets a little more at the heart of the matter, what do we want our students to get out of the formal schooling system? Once we can answer that questions, then we can start to look at what type of classroom would be best suited to facilitate that purpose - and my own interest, what role does virtual schooling play in what we want to achieve via our public school system.

So, let's ask the questions:
  1. What is the purpose of schooling?
  2. What do we want students to get out of their formal schooling experience?
  3. What kind of classroom would you need to achieve these things?
  4. What roles does virtual schooling have to play in this vision for the future?

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

A couple from a variety of sources this week. The first one come to us from Edweek Update.

Mich. Pupils Could Face Online Rule

Michigan education officials are pushing legislation that includes online lessons as part of a package of new requirements for high school graduation. If state lawmakers approve the bill, which was introduced late last month, the mandate would be the first of its kind in the nation, state officials there believe.

From the Google news alert for virtual school.

Eliminating education duplication
Macon Telegraph - Macon, GA, USA

People in Dublin are beginning to see the light and are willing to address an issue that has been around for too long a time: The Dublin City School System. A petition is due to be circulated that will ask citizens in the city if they favor dropping the school system's charter. That act would consolidate the seven school, almost 3,000 student system, with the larger Laurens County School System with nine schools and almost 6,000 students. Citizens have formed the Community Action Task Force to push the issue. The group has already started collecting the approximately 2,050 signatures needed to put the referendum on the ballot in September.

Wisconsin Virtual Academy Hosting Parent Information Sessions ...
Yahoo! News (press release) - USA

For parents, who want to enroll their child in a new school next year, now is the time to act. Parents across the state are taking advantage of Wisconsin's open enrollment program, which runs through February 24, 2006, to explore education options. One of the most popular school options is the Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA). During Wisconsin's open enrollment period, the Wisconsin Virtual Academy will host a series of parent information sessions and other education events across the state. [See all stories on this topic]

Online classes hit in high school
Daytona Beach News-Journal - Daytona, FL, USA

Tori Gibbs is running short on time. The 17-year-old is taking a full load of honors classes, serves as an editor for her high school newspaper and plays on the girls softball team at Flagler Palm Coast High School. Yet she still had to take one year of physical education this fall to fulfill Florida's graduation requirement. With softball practice everyday, that seemed like a waste.

NASA Grants $3 Mil. For Virtual Air Tower Dowling To House Program
Suffolk Life Newspapers - Riverhead, NY, USA

Due to be opened for testing this spring, this “virtual airport” will provide Dowling students with a realistic simulation of managing everything from the air traffic control down to emergency situations.“The aviation industry has used flight simulation to train pilots for years,” said Martin Holley, dean of the School of Aviation for Dowling. “Thousands of people are involved in airport operations and very little attention has been given to their needs.” A staple of pilot training, virtual simulators allowed students to go through a number of simulations without actually putting themselves in danger. Now, that technology is being applied to the entire airport operation.

The Google news alert for cyber school.

High school, college students embrace online networking
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Nachole Campbell is linked into the phenomenon MySpace virtually all day long. The 16-year-old Apollo resident, who is home-schooled through a cyber-school, has her MySpace account open nearly all the time she is "in school" online. MySpace is like a new twist on the old method of passing notes in school. "It's exciting,"Campbell says. "I'm pretty much on it all the time."

Getting tough on bullying
Edwardsville Intelligencer - Edwardsville, IL, USA

District 7 is offering a three-part series of parent workshops on childhood bullying and victimization. The workshops were developed by and will be presented by a team of District 7 staff members that include school psychologists, school social workers, parent educators, and administrators. [See all stories on this topic]

Taking Cyber-Credit
Hartford Advocate - Hartford, CT, USA

When it comes to nicknames for computer hackers, TerrorCyber has got to be among the lamest. It´s like titling a porn film Movie With Sex . No creativity. Nevertheless, TerrorCyber is the chosen moniker for someone who has claimed responsibility for damaging the computer system in a University of Connecticut academic building over the weekend of Jan. 28 and 29.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Online Physical Education

Online Learning Update had an item at the beginning of the month about Online Physical Education Program Finds Niche - Kate McGreevy, School Reform News. You may recall back in August I asked the question How would this work? in relation to online or virtual physical education programs.

This new article informs us that the concept is catching on and that it appears to be "working," but I am still left wondering how exactly does one do virtual physical education? Is there anyone out there who has taken one of these courses or who has a child in one of these courses that can lay it out for me?

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Another Virtual School Blogs

Another blog about virtual schooling to announce. Note that I have also added it to the blogroll - listed on the bottom of the left hand side under "Other Blogs".

Launched 9/7/05, the purpose of vSKOOL.org is to serve as an online clearinghouse of offerings of education products & services to K-12 students, teachers, and families affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The aim of the vSKOOL blog is to share information to enable all of us - as a community of concerned individuals, organizations, and institutions of all types - to better respond to the needs of those displaced.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Who Am I?

As a follow-up to the message that I received from the Association of Online K-12 Schools (see Association of Online K-12 Schools), it dawned on my that I haven't really provided much in the way over information over the past eleven months as to why anyone should really listen to my thoughts and ideas on virtual schooling. So, maybe now is finally the time to tell you a bit about my background and interest in the topic.

I first started developing courses and teaching online in 1999-2000 when I took a position at Discovery Collegiate in Bonavista. Specifically, I began with the design of an Advanced Placement European History course. During that year, we received some external fundingand created the Centre for Advanced Placement Education (which has been largely inactive for the past three years). The following year I set about developing and teaching the remaining AP social studies courses (i.e., Comparative Government and Politics, Human Geography, US Government and Politics, US History, and World History).

That same year I also became involved with the Illinois Virtual High School (IVHS), where I co-developed and team-taught their AP European History course with Jim Kinsella (I also did some research work with the AP Human Geography teacher, Pete Landreth). The following year the province of Newfoundland and Labrador started their own virtual high school, the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) and I was asked to become the district administrator (also known as a Web-Based Initiatives Facilitator) for the district that I had been teaching in.

The next year I was contracted to develop a World History course for the CDLI and, based on the work that Jim and I were doing with the IVHS, we were asked to develop an AP European History course for AventaLearning Inc.. Since then, I have joined with a group of educators from back home and we have been in the process of building our own virtual high school which will focus upon the AP curriculum that should be launched in the next twelve to eighteen months. I have also been contracted to re-develop the World History course for the CDLI now that the province has adopted a new textbook for the course.

Outside of the practice experience, I have been involved in a number of research projects that have focused upon the populations involved with virtual schooling. These projects have included:

Affects of Participation in Asynchronous Discussion Forums on Student Performance in Advanced Placement Courses - The general purpose of this study was to consider the affects of students’ participation in asynchronous discussion forums (as a form of writing) on the grades that they receive both in their individual course and on the Educational Testing Service standardised exam. [Completed]

Achievement and Retention in Advanced Placement Courses Based upon Delivery Model - The general purpose of this study is to examine the retention rates and student achievement on standardized exams in the Advanced Placement curriculum in a Canadian province. The primary aim of this study is to explore the similarities and differences between retention rates and student achievement between different models of Advanced Placement delivery (i.e., classroom-based, web-based, or independent study). [Completed]

Effective Web-Based Design for Secondary Students - The general purpose of this study is to examine what constitutes pedagogically sound web-based course design for an adolescent audience. Using interviews with students, teachers, course developers, and administrators at two North American virtual high schools perceptions of what aspects of course design are useful and not useful will be discussed. A document analysis of various courses will also be conducted. [On-going]

Secondary Students’ Perceptions of Web-Based Learning – Using surveys and interviews, this study investigates helpful and challenging components of web-based learning with secondary students in a Canadian province. By exploring web-based learning from the student’s perspective it may inform the creation of strategies that can be implemented to assist web-based learning designers. [On-going]

Secondary Student Achievement by Course Delivery Model – Using standardized examination and the final course evaluation scores from a Canadian province for the past three years in each course that was offered through both a classroom and web-based format, this study will address whether or not there is a difference in student achievement on standardized exams based delivery model and location of the school (i.e., rural-urban) and whether there is a difference in student achievement on final course evaluation based delivery model and location. [In Progress]

Effectiveness of Powerpoint Games in K-12 e-Learning Environments – With Microsoft Powerpoint, a popular and commonly available classroom tool, it has become easier for teachers and students to use game design as a learning strategy in their classrooms. Through the use high stakes testing instruments, this study is designed to judge the effectiveness of game design as a learning strategy. [In Progress]

The ones that are completed are ones where the data has been collected, analyzed, and presented or published in the appropriate manners. The ones that are on-going are ones where the data has been collected and is either being analyzed or has been partially analyzed and partially presented or published. Finally, the ones that are in progress still have data collection underway.

And my own dissertation study which I just started this past month is entitled What are they doing and how are they doing it? Student experiences in virtual schooling. The abstract for the study is:
The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador has utilized distance education for over a decade to provide equal opportunities for rural students. In recent years, students in the current web-based program has consistently performed as well as or better than their classroom counterparts in final course scores and standardized exams, opposing a more well-documented trend in the literature for distance education programs. Given the fact the performance results of these distance education students run counter to what is found in the literature, discovering what factors account for these results is an important undertaking. The purpose of this case study is to examine the nature of web-based learning with secondary students, seeking to explore the factors that may affect performance. Interviews, focus groups, journal entries, and participant observation will be used to gather data from distance education students throughout the province. Results will be analyzed using an inductive analysis approach, which involves scanning the data for categories and relationships within individual transcripts and between transcripts. Conclusions will focused on developing a better foundation for designing more effective web-based learning opportunities for all students.
So, what's your own background? Why do you come here? What brings you back? Let me know...

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

From the Google news alert service for virtual school.

Schools closing, virtual school opening
Monsters and Critics.com - Glasgow, UK

Chicago Public School officials announced plans to shut down four more schools that fail to meet standards of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Three underperforming elementary schools, Farren, Frazier and Morse, will close at the end of the current school year, affecting 1,065 students. Collins High School will be phased out over the next three years and no freshmen will be admitted next school year.

SD 73 pushes private company through
North Thompson Times - Clearwater, British Columbia, Canada

At a board meeting held Jan. 23, the third and final reading took place regarding a policy for School District 73 (SD 73) to form an incorporated business company; a necessity if plans to market virtual school to Japan were to come to fruition.At the end of the day, trustee Dick Dickens maintained his opposition to the policy and was the only "no" vote, taking a stand on principal, citing public education should be funded by the government. "I choose to view the new company as an opportunity, not a means to take education private," said Harwood. "The other trustees agree with me."The three directors for the company are dictated by position - secretary/treasury of SD 73, vice-chair of the board and the principal of the virtual school. As these positions rotate, whomever occupies the position will assume directorship in the company. Currently they are James Sheldon, Ken Christian and Don Poelzer, respectively.

Virtual High School begins second semester
KeepMEcurrent.com - Scarborough, ME, USA

Wednesday, Jan. 25, was a big day for 20 students at Sacopee Valley High School. Virtual High School online courses began at 12:01 a.m. These students are taking a wide variety of courses including courses from Pre-Advanced Placement to Animation and Personal Finance. Students are allowed to apply and register for courses not currently being offered at Sacopee Valley thus opening up a “whole new virtual world” to them.

Parents invited to learn more about virtual schools
Monroe Times - Monroe, WI, USA

Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA), Wisconsin's first K-8 virtual charter school, today announced that Janesville-area parents interested in learning more about this public school option are invited to attend an interactive information session. The session will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 at Blackhawk Technical College, 6004 Prairie Road in Janesville. Parents who attend will be able to talk with a local family whose children are currently enrolled in WCA, as well as with WCA teachers, to learn more about this virtual school option. Details about the school's individualized learning program, its well-respected and nationally recognized Calvert curriculum and Wisconsin's open enrollment process will also be provided. Pre-registration is not required, and anyone interested in learning more about WCA is invited to attend.

Mobile technology set to revitalise museum experience for pupils
eGov monitor - London, UK

Mobile technology set to revitalise museum experience for pupils An innovative new service that aims to use mobile phones to revitalise the museum experience for young people will launch next month at Portsmouth's D-Day Museum. Myartspace will enable educational groups visiting the D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery to explore, 'collect' and share cultural artefacts using mobile phones and the internet.

And from the Google news alert service for cyber school.

Resolution criticizes cyber school law
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

The Quaker Valley school board is putting state legislators and the Department of Education on notice about what it calls a fundamentally flawed approach to funding cyber charter schools. The board Tuesday adopted a resolution seeking equitable funding based on "true costs, reasonable educational oversight, and accountability" rather than formula-driven fees. State law requires school districts to pay 80 percent of their per-pupil costs as tuition for students who live in their service areas and enroll in online schools.

Cyber schools' array of choices touted
News-Herald - Franklin, PA, USA

The reasons for deciding to attend a cyber charter school are as varied as the students themselves. But after reading a number of letters to the newspaper from cyber school students and parents, some patterns begin to emerge. Several parents and students touted the array of choices offered by cyber schools. "The choices of classes far exceed the choices offered by the local schools," one parent wrote.

Public Meeting February 20 about Solanco Student Drug-Testing ...
SolancoNews.com - Quarryville, PA, USA

A public meeting will be held on Monday, February 20, at 7 p.m. in the Solanco High School auditorium, to discuss revisions to Solanco's drug-testing policy. The new policy would include mandatory, random drug testing for all middle school and high school students who participate in extracurricular and co-curricular activities. Also included in the new, mandatory random drug-testing program would be high school students who drive to school, and home-school and cyber-school students who participate in Solanco School District extracurricular activities. Solanco Superintendent Dr. Jon J. Rednak, and a committee of Solanco administrators and staff, have been developing the new policy, which was submitted to the Solanco Board of School Directors for a first reading in January.

Districts dial up anger over cyber schools
Lebanon Daily News - Lebanon, PA, USA

Lebanon County school districts are spending thousands of dollars each year to educate students who don’t go to classes in their schools. And they’re getting pretty tired of it. Pennsylvania requires school districts to foot the tuition bill for students who live in their districts and choose to take classes via the Internet through “cyber schools” instead of in the traditional school setting. These cyber schools receive payments from the home districts according to how much the districts spend per pupil at their schools.

GHS presents i-Safe
Germantown News - Germantown, TN, USA

Parents: do you think you know what your kids are doing online? According to an informal survey at an area school, 90 percent of parents feel they know what their children do online; 37 to 47 percent of children say that their parents don't know at all what they do while on the Internet. On Thursday, February 9, Shelby County Schools will host a national awareness campaign, coordinated by i-Safe- a non-profit, government funded, Internet safety foundation that teaches children how to surf the web safely. The presentation for parents in the Germantown community will be held in the auditorium at Germantown High School. [See all stories on this topic]

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Association of Online K-12 Schools

I received this a few days ago from Kelli Boklaschuk (KBoklaschuk@scs.sk.ca).

Hello Michael,

We are happy to invite you to join the Association of Online K-12 Schools. The purpose of the Association of Online K-12 Schools is to develop interest, participation and cooperation in a sharing environment with the online K-12 school membership community. Further, the membership will provide a virtual association which will utilize the latest advancements in technology and services to assist its members in teaching and developing online.

If you are interested in joining please go to : http://www.scs.sk.ca/cyber/aok12s/home.htm We would also be interested in hosting your blogs.

Both the Association membership and the blog hosting is free. Our goal is to connect online educators all over the world to share resources, ideas, successes and failures so that we can expand our knowledge of online education.

You can sign up for a blog from the Association web site as well.

Take care,

Kelli Boklaschuk
Learning Community Director
Cyber School Elementary Coordinator
KBoklaschuk@scs.sk.ca
306.659.8166
http://www.scs.sk.ca/
The organization looked interesting enough to pass it on to my readership as something that someone out there may be interested in. If you do apply from membership, let us know.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Statistics for January

Over the past month there were 420 unqique visitors to this blog. This represents 358 first time visitors (or those who don't accept cookies) and 62 returning visitors, for an average of 14 per day. It appears that January 3 was a big visiting day - with 36 visitors, followed by January 4 with 32, January 5 with 26, and January 31 with 24. In case you are wondering on January 3 I posted Predictions for 2006 for Virtual Schooling and on January 31 I posted Instant Messaging Re-Visited.

My visitors were fairly limited, in terms of location this past month, with the majority (like 70%) once again coming from the United States and the remainder coming from Canada, Mexico, the Russian Federation, and France.

The majority of people (excluding the less than five second group of "Next Bloggers") stayed here for either 30 seconds to 5 minutes or from 5 to 20 minutes, with two people even staying for more than an hour.

I owe these visitors largely to Darren at Teaching and Developing Online, along with Google, MSN, and Yahoo! - all of which did bring in a fair amount of traffic. Some common keywords that included me were:

  • free virtual high school
  • virtual high school analysis
  • georgia high school virtual classroom
  • evaluate new high school course
  • virtual high
  • georgia virtual school comments
  • georgia's virtual classroom
  • virtual high school
  • pa cyber schooling

Based upon these search terms, plus all of the other traffic, the popular entries this past month included:

That's about it for this month, see you all again in four weeks with some more statistics.

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