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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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