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Friday, March 31, 2006

Students These Days

Another entry in the list of links that I wanted to blog about. This particular one is a topic that I have posted on myself, many times (for the latest entry see Schooling Not Matching Our Students).

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Designing Virtual Schooling

This has actually been an area that I have done a bit of research on, and have posted on in the past (see Virtual School Course Development for the latest entry).

A couple of links to entries looking a this issue:

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Updates from Various Virtual Schools

Okay, so I have a lot of entries in my Bloglines account that I have been meaning to blog about, but not they number four or five dozen and I simply won't get to them all. Some I will still try and take a stab at, but others I will simply present in thematic lists of lists over the next couple of weeks. This is the first of these lists...

This one thematically looks at the latest happenings at different virtual schools and anything that might have been newsworthy about them.

British Columbia





South Dakota





No Real Jurisdiction

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Virtual School Report - Spring Edition

I got this message from "Bulletin" (bulletin@connectionsacademy.com) last week and thought I should pass it on.


The new edition of the Virtual School Report is now available at http://www.connectionsacademy.com/pdfs/VirtualNewsSpring2006.pdf

The current issue includes:
  • A research report concerning the importance of professional development for effective teaching and online learning
  • An analysis of recent studies that evaluate statewide virtual learning programs
  • A discussion of how virtual schools address the issue of socialization

Past editions of the Virtual School Report can be found online at http://www.virtualschoolreport.com . Also, check out the Virtual School Book Shelf at http://www.connectionsacademy.com/legislators/bookshelf.asp which lists top studies and articles concerning virtual K-12 education. This site is updated frequently so check back often.

If you do not wish to receive future issues, please let me know.

Dan Lott
Connections Academy

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Four Trends

Frederic Reynaerts, over at E-Learning Perspectives, posted an entry entitled "4 Trends to Watch" in which he states that four trends to watch in the future of learning and technology are:
  • Self-Service: Employees and customers are moving rapidly towards a comfort and even assumption of self-service for transactions.
  • Search vs. Menu: Fewer websites are being accessed via a click from a menu and more from a free text search process.
  • Media Timeshifting: Increased use of TIVO and Digital Recorders at home are leading to an expectation of the ability to timeshift most media watching.
  • Peer Validated Knowledge: People are increasingly balancing expert knowledge with peer validation and ratings.

If these are trends are true, what does that mean for schooling (and particularly virual schooling)?

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Reality of Virtual Schooling

I received this message from Julie Heon via the AP Small Schools listserve. As she was describing the Virtual High School, I though it was worthwhile to post here.

We have used Virtual High School for three years and are quite satisfied. The quality of the instructors is very high, and they communicate very well with our students. Our state has formed a consortium and contracted with VHS in order to negotiate rates.

A very few students have taken AP Bio or Stats. The results on these AP exams have not been as high as in-school AP courses. But the students were satisfied to have the experience.

Online courses have worked for our students who have the capability and responsibility to work independently. We offer them time at a computer at school or they can work at home. Our coordinator for online courses is a guidance counselor who gets regular/bi-weekly progress reports on each student. This helps to prevent a student from getting too far behind before someone at our school intervenes.

Julie Heon
Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Pembroke Academy
I include it here because I believe it outlines a number of the things that I have often argued about the current state of virtual schooling.

For example, the students in the virtual courses did not perform as well on the standardized exam as students in the classroom courses (and the AP exams are pretty good standardized exams, as far as standardized exams go). The students have to "have the capability and responsibility to work independently", characteristics of the typical adult learner and not necessarily of the adoloscent learner. The need for access to a cmputer at home or additional access at school.

Is it possible to design a virtual school experience, where students can have the same level of success as their classroom counterparts, which is accessible to students of all abilities and all socio-economic levels?

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Literature Base

I have often argued that the literature base on virtual schooling, and for that matter distance education at the K-12 level is weak. The research based for virtual schooling, and again distance education at the K-12 level, is even weaker.

If you look at the literature on virtual schooling, I argue that the literature for virtual schooling is relative new and is primarily being published in doctoral dissertations or by private research centers. Unfortunately the amount of published research evidence in this body of literature is limited, as the vast majority of it is based upon the personal experiences of those involved in the actual practice of virtual schooling. Outside of these quasi-action research attempts, the next largest group of virtual schooling literature is evaluations of specific virtual schooling contexts - most of which are paid research endeavours (not that there is anything wrong with paid research, but it does raise questions about objectivity).

There are some that disagree with me. I even had one individual suggest that if you search for virtual school in Google Scholar you come up with a wide range of entries - all of them part of the literature on virtual schooling. While this is probably true, let's take a look at what Google Scholar turns up.

The first page of listing for "Virtual School".

The first page of listing for "Virtual High School".

So, how much research do we have here? While this is only one example to test my theory, how do you think my argument holds up?

Are these valid statements? Is the literature base on virtual schooling, and for that matter distance education at the K-12 level is weak? Is the research based for virtual schooling, and again distance education at the K-12 level, is even weaker?

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Blogging on Vacation

Well, I'm a week without Internet access. Which is kind of frustrating, as there are a number of wireless networks in range, but they are either not strong enough for me to stay connected to the web for more than a few seconds at a time or are password protected.

So, I have taken to blogging in Notepad - which I will post when I return with the date and time signature indicating when it was originally written. This will probably mean that I post numerous entries at the same time, but that's okay as well.

Hopefully San Francisco has been access when we travel in April for AERA.

Tags: blog, blogging, blogs

Friday, March 10, 2006

Going on Break

Please note that I will not have Internet access for the next seven days, starting tomorrow. So there will be no updates to this space for at least seven days after today.

Tags: blog, blogging, blogs

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Virtual School for Missouri

A friened of mine passed this on to me with the note:

"Not everyone is happy about this. There are hsers who are not too."

Bill would create 'virtual schools' for K through 12

Sunday, March 5, 2006
MARK BLISS ~ Southeast Missourian

Some area school superintendents worry about the financial effect on local districts.


Missouri children could get an education -- kindergarten through high school -- without ever setting foot in a school building under legislation working its way through the Missouri House.

The bill would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a "virtual school" by July 1, 2007. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade could enroll full- or part-time in a virtual school.

Proponents say it would be the most comprehensive "virtual school" system in the nation.

DESE deputy commissioner Bert Schulte said his department expects to contract with Internet companies to offer several virtual schools in the state. Read more

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Guide to Virtual Offerings

I found this over at vSKOOL.org: Linking Hurricane Victims to Online Educational Resources and thought that it was interesting and noteworthy enough to pass on. A guide to high schools offering online courses.

A Guide to High School in the Cyber Age

Just received a notice about a new book due out in April 2006 that will profile 113 high schools offering courses through the internet, including detailed information on each institution, such as accreditation, tuition, and educational philosophy.Can't say that we are familiar with the author (Vincent Kiernan) or can offer any endorsement of the book. Having said that, this may be one of the first of its kind.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

The Google news alert for virtual school.

District mulls fiscal realities of online school
Greater Milwaukee Today - WI, USA

At the Country Springs Hotel and Convention Center Thursday night, the Wisconsin Connections Academy showcased the Foat family to a group of area parents thinking about sending their children to the Appleton online charter school. The Foats, Waukesha residents, live within the Whittier Elementary School boundary. The Foats decided, though, to enroll their third-grader, Sam, and their first-grader, Katie, into the Wisconsin Connections Academy, the state’s first kindergarten through eighth-grade online elementary school. [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual School bill moves forward
Aberdeen American News - Aberdeen, SD, USA

The state Education Department should regulate the increasing number of electronic courses offered to South Dakota students, lawmakers decided Monday. HB1236, which would create a state framework for Internet and televised courses provided to high school students, won final approval from both chambers of the South Dakota Legislature Monday. The House voted 64-4 and the Senate voted 33-2 Monday to send the bill to Gov. Mike Rounds, who requested it

Will virtual school encroach upon homeschool
Joplin Independent - Joplin, MO, USA

If you are a proponent of education and you follow legislative activity about education, you already may be aware of House Bill 1275 introduced by Representative Brian Baker. HB 1275 requires the State Board of Education to establish a virtual school by July 1, 2007. Any student in kindergarten through grade 12 could enroll in this virtual classroom, regardless of where the student lives in Missouri. The participating student would be officially enrolled in the district of their residency. No opposition to HB 1275 was voiced in either the House or Senate committee hearings.

Online schools exploding across the United States
Greater Milwaukee Today - WI, USA

When the fax machine finally cooled Friday, Heidi Laabs estimated 1,060 applications were received for iQ Academies, the Waukesha School District’s online charter high school. Friday marked the end of Wisconsin’s open enrollment period, a three-week window when Wisconsin parents can apply to send their children to schools other than their local school. Laabs, executive director of curriculum and instruction, said Waukesha School District officials expected iQ Academies would receive about 1,000 applications.

Phys ed students today need ingenuity
Myrtle Beach Sun News - Myrtle Beach, SC, USA

The Pensacola News Journal reported the other week that a former Escambia County middle school gym teacher was charged with six counts of bribery. According to the Sheriff's Office, Terence Braxton charged Ward Middle School students a dollar a day to get out of physical education class. The school principal expressed surprise and told The Washington Post that the 28-year-old second-year teacher had "a very good rapport with the kids." I do not doubt that. A dollar a day would be a bargain at twice the price.

Kids who skip school get costly lesson
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Cleveland, OH, USA

The 17-year-old East High student hid her face in her jacket when she learned that skipping school Wednesday would cost her mother $150. "Oh no," the girl winced, "my mom's going to be mad." The girl was one of 35 students, all eighth-graders or older, picked up during the first of the Cleveland School District's weekly truancy sweeps to be conducted until the end of the term. School security forces and city police focused on neighborhoods around Martin Luther King and East high schools.

Can we graduate from high school already?
Minnesota Daily - Minneapolis, MN, USA

Very few twentysomethings admit wanting to go back to high school. After all, no one misses the insecurity, the fear of not being cool enough and the superficial relationships interrupted by the occasional backstabbing. Or do they? College students, and others in their 20s, must have a secret nostalgia for their teenage years ' or they wouldn't be on MySpace.com. That's because MySpace is really just a huge virtual high school populated by the same prototypes we all remember. The site reduces real people with actual interests and in-the-flesh friends to participants in an addictive, two-dimensional popularity contest. The whole thing is akin to collecting wallet-sized school pictures of your "friends" when you were 14 years old. Whether you aimed for quality or quantity, your popularity was determined by who appeared in that stack of photographs.

A virtual arts experience
Lake County Record-Bee - Lake County, CA, USA

EcoArts of Lake County will bring its 2006 Sculpture Walk to a computer near you, thanks to a $5,000 grant from SBC. The Excelerator grant will help create a CyberWalk of pieces in the 2006 Sculpture Walk, whose actual works will reside in 107-acre Middletown County Trailside Park, off Route 175. Sculpture made from, or relating to nature, is sited along both sides of a 3/8 mile central trail through meadows and woodland.

The Google news alert for cyber school.

Colleges going cyber: Tech transforms recruiting
USA Today - USA

The day after the Super Bowl, the undergraduate admissions office at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland e-mailed 108 high school seniors in the Pittsburgh area to congratulate them on the Steelers' victory. That might seem odd. After all, what does the Super Bowl have to do with college admissions?
But technology is transforming how colleges communicate with high school students they are trying to woo.

House passes anti-bullying legislation
WIS - Columbia, SC, USA

School employees would be required to report bullying under a bill that received final House approval Wednesday. The "Safe Schools Climate Act" prohibits students from harassing, intimidating or bullying other students and includes a provision banning cyber-bullying. The bill now goes to the Senate, which passed similar legislation last year. Under the House version, the Board of Education would have until September to develop model policies for school districts. [See all stories on this topic]

Cyber centres to close at 1am
Malaysia Star - Malaysia

Within weeks of implementing its new guidelines on cyber cafés and cyber centres that favoured the outlets, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council has been forced to re-look at the new regulations. MPSJ has come up with a stern decision. Opening hours are until 1am. MPSJ president Datuk Mohd Arif Abdul Rahman said the council had met residents and the cyber café and cyber centre operators when it came up with the recent guidelines. They were implemented last month. ”However, we have found that all the excuses that the operators came up with to maintain their late operating hours were unfounded,” he said. “Hence, we have decided to ask them to close at 1am.”[See all stories on this topic]

Parent says charter schools save NA money
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rather than being a financial burden, students who attend cyber charter schools save money for North Allegheny taxpayers. That was the message Elsie Spry delivered to the school board at its meeting Feb. 15. Mrs. Spry, a Marshall resident, made her brief presentation in response to an earlier report from financial services manager Mike Hopkins. At a school board meeting in January, Mr. Hopkins had estimated that the district paid between $350,000 and $380,000 to cyber schools for the costs of educating about 41 students whose parents live in North Allegheny.

David Hendricks: Magnet school going further on cutting edge
San Antonio Express (subscription) - San Antonio, TX, USA

Business Careers High School students and teachers will step even closer to the "real world" of business this fall with wireless laptop computers and a new curriculum, thanks to a $1.8 million makeover and solid support from the San Antonio business community. Started in 1991 at the behest of then-USAA chief Robert McDermott, the innovative Northside Independent School District magnet school has prepared thousands of high school students for college studies and business careers.

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