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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Statistics from April

As I forgot to post statistics for March, our comparison point will be the end of February. This morning at 8:00am (EST) there have been 4820 hits to this blog. At the end of February it was sitting at 4051. This is an increase of 769 hits over the past two months.

According to my statcounter, there were 290 unique visitors to this blog in February, 222 of which were first time visitors and 68 were returning visitors. This is an average of 10 per day, but also an increase in my returning visitors by more than twenty people.

Just over 50% of these visitors this month came from the United States, I also had visitors from Canada, Singapore, Japan, India, New Zealand, and Australia.

They came to read:

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

Tags: blog, blogging, blogs, , , ,

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Another installment from my Yahoo news service...

‘Virtual school’ recruits here
The Davis Enterprise Fri, 21 Apr 2006 2:05 PM PDT

Published Apr 14, 2006 - 15:22:14 CDT. A charter school — that describes itself as a “virtual public school” — is seeking students in Yolo County, as well as most of the Sacramento area.

Michigan First State to Require Online Learning
SYS-CON Media Fri, 21 Apr 2006 4:54 PM PDT

Michigan has become the first state in the U.S. to require students to successfully complete an online course or learning experience under new legislation signed into law on April 20, 2006, by Governor Jennifer Granholm. This action was part of a comprehensive legislative package to revamp Michigan's high school graduation requirements beginning with incoming eighth graders in the fall of 2006.

Stanford offers a school for gifted in cyberspace
Contra Costa Times Sun, 23 Apr 2006 3:43 AM PDT

Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth is taking the next logical step: launching what is believed to be the nation's first online high school for gifted students.

Kihei Charter celebrates its future
The Maui News Sun, 23 Apr 2006 12:58 PM PDT

KIHEI – The island’s only charter high school celebrated its fifth anniversary last week with students and staff reminiscing about the past and planning for the future.

Virtual school to conduct local info session
CentralOhio.com Mon, 24 Apr 2006 3:13 AM PDT

A virtual public school will conduct an information session in Chillicothe next month. Ohio Connections Academy offers information about its programs and learning approaches at the seminars.

'Virtual learning' delayed for charter schools
Honolulu Star-Bulletin Mon, 24 Apr 2006 5:28 AM PDT

The Board of Education has put off adopting an official policy on "virtual learning" in charter schools, likely dashing the hopes of schools that wanted to begin enrolling online-based students for the coming school year.

Michigan to require "online courses" for high school graduation
Ars Technica Sun, 23 Apr 2006 2:55 PM PDT

Michigan becomes the first state to require online coursework for its students, billing it as a way to bring students into the 21st century. What if the students are already there?

Cyber schools face possible tuition limit
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Sun, 23 Apr 2006 9:08 PM PDT

Tuition at cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania would be capped and paid by the Department of Education, instead of by local school districts, under a bill to be introduced today in Harrisburg.

Pilot virtual schooling projects debut here
Houston Chronicle Mon, 24 Apr 2006 10:46 PM PDT

At 8 years of age, Brian Reynolds barely has time for school. The brown-haired, freckle-faced boy spends 15 hours a week playing golf and at least five hours a week in music lessons. He's active in his church, just graduated from the Cub Scouts and spends stretches overseas visiting family in Ireland.

Official Business: Monroe School Board
Monroe Times Tue, 25 Apr 2006 5:21 PM PDT

*Adopted the administrator benefits guidelines and administrative staff handbooks. * Accepted an open enrollment request by a student in the Milwaukee School District who wants to attend the virtual school.

Stanford offers a school for gifted in cyberspace
Contra Costa Times Tue, 25 Apr 2006 4:22 PM PDT

Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth is taking the next logical step: launching what is believed to be the nation's first online high school for gifted students.

Online school offers students freedom
ABC 13 Texas Tue, 25 Apr 2006 4:22 PM PDT

It could be the wave of the future. What if your child could take classes, whenever and wherever they wanted?

Stanford offers a school for gifted in cyberspace
Contra Costa Times Wed, 26 Apr 2006 6:37 PM PDT

Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth is taking the next logical step: launching what is believed to be the nation's first online high school for gifted students.

Jefferson approves charter for virtual academy
San Mateo County Times Fri, 28 Apr 2006 3:01 AM PDT

DALY CITY — A virtual academy, currently chartered through the Burlingame School District, has found a new sponsor: the Jefferson School District.

School of the net
Sydney Morning Herald Fri, 28 Apr 2006 9:26 AM PDT

An online learning tool enhances, rather than replaces, the conventional classroom. Harriet Alexander reports. -

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Requiring Virtual Schooling?

Well, let's take another familiar thread from the archives (see Mandatory Virtual Schooling). I have noticed that coming up later this week there is an entry on the "Virtual Schooling in the News" about Michigan and that state requiring that all students take a virtual school course in order to graduate.

Michigan First State to Require Online Learning
SYS-CON Media Fri, 21 Apr 2006 4:54 PM PDT

Michigan has become the first state in the U.S. to require students to successfully complete an online course or learning experience under new legislation signed into law on April 20, 2006, by Governor Jennifer Granholm. This action was part of a comprehensive legislative package to revamp Michigan's high school graduation requirements beginning with incoming eighth graders in the fall of 2006.
Only a few hours later, another message came through my inbox (this one via ITForum) with an article on the same topic:
April 20, 2006

Michigan Requires Online Attendance

This morning Jennifer M. Granholm, the governor of Michigan, signed a bill that will require all high-school students in the state to take at least one course online before they can graduate. This is apparently the first such requirement in the nation. The provision was included in a bill that toughened the overall state high-school-graduation standards. The online course students take does not have to be for credit, but observers expect many students to take Advanced Placement courses via
the Web.

Lawmakers initially questioned why they needed to require students who grew up on video games and the Internet to take online courses. In the end, they decided that making students conduct some of their education over the Internet would better prepare them for college and the workplace, which relies more and more on online tools.

For more information on this topic, see an article from The Chronicle by Dan Carnevale.

http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i18/18a04501.htm

Others have been following this story as well (see Expand online college classes to reach more Mich. students - Detroit News from Online Learning Update and Michigan first to mandate online learning from Teaching and Developing Online as examples).

Again, as I think I have mentioned in the past - while I see virtual schooling as a great opportunity to supplement the curriculum and provide opportunities for students that wouldn't otherwise be available (particularly in rural areas), as well as providing students who have had trouble in the traditional school setting the chance to actually get an education - I still wonder if this is just too much?

In this age of digital natives (see Marc Prensky - Listen to the Natives and Wow... by Scott Adams, My students inspire me as they "get" Web 2.0 by Cool Cat Teacher Blog, and Digital Natives by Stephen's Web/Write Technology), I'm not sure I see the value in simply forcing them into an online class simply to gain the technology skills, or even the independent learning skills.

So, your mission should you choose to accept it, convince me as to why this is a good idea.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Getting Back To A Familiar Theme

Well,it has been over four months since I have picked up on this theme (see Virtual, Cyber, and Home Schooling), but once again I wanted to examine the relationship between homeschool and cyber charter school students. I recall a while ago Annette (and I may have one too many "n"s in there) told me that once a homeschool student started to attend a cyber charter school, a private virtual school, or even a district/state sponsored virtual school that they were no longer considered a homeschooled student because they had started prticipating in some formal education system outside of the home.

This view would seem to be supported by SpunkyHomeSchool who has written that Online Charters Are NOT Homeschools (I should note that it appears that she has removed this entry, although it began "There are many using online charters that want to be considered homeschoolers. This article presents the reason online charters like K12 used by these parents in Colorado is not a homeschool but a "different kind of public school". Because COVA is a public school chartered by the Adams 12 District, it's subject to the same regulations as "brick and mortar" schools. "They monitor attendance...").

However, a few days ago I announced a couple of new blogs that I had found on virtual schooling. One of these, Allied Online High School Blog, had a couple of interesting entries that again made me question the clarity of the division that Annette and Spunky are referring to.

I found it quite interesting that this online high school was both targetting and, from reading some of the other material on their site, catering to the needs of homeschooled students.

So I'm left to wondering is this as cut and dry as some would have us believe. I know in one of my own areas of interest, rural education, there are many definitions of what constitutes rural. The Department of Education has three categories of schools that are considered rural, but the United States Bureau of Statistics uses a different definition of rural, and then the Department of Agriculture weighs in with a third. Is it possible that the distinction of what constitutes homeschooling can be just as muddy?

Note that in the past I have also tried to outline a link between homeschooling, cyber charter schools, and Christian education - which I still believe exists (at least for the latter two - see Christian school goes online).

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

More from my daily Yahoo news service for the terms "virtual and school" and the terms "cyber and school".

Home-schooling takes digital approach
CentralOhio.com Fri, 14 Apr 2006 7:13 PM PDT

FAIRFIELD COUNTY - Cell phones have replaced pay phones, iPods have replaced the Walkman - and now some people say virtual schools are beginning to replace traditional public schools.

First virtual high school for the gifted
San Jose Mercury News Fri, 14 Apr 2006 2:18 PM PDT

Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth is taking the next logical step: launching what is believed to be the nation's first online high school for gifted students.

Cyberschooling provides Rockwood teen the best of both worlds
Daily American Fri, 14 Apr 2006 9:11 PM PDT

According to Janee Romesberg, cyberschooling is an ideal educational alternative for her.

‘Virtual school’ recruits here
The Davis Enterprise Sat, 15 Apr 2006 10:14 PM PDT

Published Apr 14, 2006 - 15:22:14 CDT. A charter school — that describes itself as a “virtual public school” — is seeking students in Yolo County, as well as most of the Sacramento area.

Christian school goes online
Cincinnati Enquirer Sun, 16 Apr 2006 3:15 AM PDT

The man who led Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy's elementary school is launching a Christian school online.

Cyber-Communication: Finding Its Place in School Counseling Practice, Education, and Professional Development
RedNova Sun, 16 Apr 2006 2:07 AM PDT By Wilczenski, Felicia L; Coomey, Susan M

‘Virtual school’ recruits here
The Davis Enterprise Mon, 17 Apr 2006 1:20 PM PDT

Published Apr 14, 2006 - 15:22:14 CDT. A charter school — that describes itself as a “virtual public school” — is seeking students in Yolo County, as well as most of the Sacramento area.

High School Dropouts Have Second Chance Online
PR Web via Yahoo! News Mon, 17 Apr 2006 5:00 AM PDT

Santa Cruz, CA (PRWEB) April 17, 2006 -- High school dropouts in this nation are faced with dramatically lower earning potential over their lifetimes without a high school diploma or GED.

High School Dropouts Have Second Chance Online
PR Web Mon, 17 Apr 2006 0:14 AM PDT

Comcourse offers a free GED preparation program and adult online high school program. [PRWEB Apr 17, 2006]

Some students turn to virtual schools
Rhinelander Daily News Tue, 18 Apr 2006 11:28 AM PDT

Internet access to other schools' programs continues to play a major role in decisions by Rhinelander public school students to pursue education opportunities elsewhere under the state's school choice law or through home-schooling.

Doyle vetoes four bills, won't OK shorter school year
ABC 7 Chicago Tue, 18 Apr 2006 6:38 PM PDT

Four education-related bills, including one that would have allowed districts to shorten the school year by increasing the length of the school day, were vetoed Tuesday by Governor Jim Doyle.


Virtual school’ recruits here
The Davis Enterprise Wed, 19 Apr 2006 1:09 PM PDT

Published Apr 14, 2006 - 15:22:14 CDT. A charter school — that describes itself as a “virtual public school” — is seeking students in Yolo County, as well as most of the Sacramento area.

Doyle vetoes Davis' virtual school bill
Monroe Times Wed, 19 Apr 2006 10:50 AM PDT

MONROE -- Governor Jim Doyle vetoed Assembly Bill (AB) 1060 Tuesday, legislation written by Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, intended to clarify the definition of a teacher in a virtual school.

IDAHO VIRTUAL ACADEMY OPEN HOUSE
KPVI-TV Wed, 19 Apr 2006 10:54 AM PDT

Some local parents got a peak into an Idaho public school providing an alternative approach to their children's education. The Idaho Virtual Academy held an open house in Pocatello. The online system provides schooling for kids in grades K through 9.

Conference committee approves charter school legislation
WIS-TV Columbia Wed, 19 Apr 2006 1:21 PM PDT

(Columbia-AP) April 19, 2006 - House and Senate conferees approved a compromise version of charter school legislation on Wednesday that would set up a vote in each chamber that could establish a statewide charter school district.

Doyle vetoes four bills, won't OK shorter school year
Gazette Extra Sports Wed, 19 Apr 2006 7:23 AM PDT

MADISON, Wis. - Four education-related bills, including one that would have allowed districts to shorten the school year by increasing the length of the school day, were vetoed Tuesday by Gov. Jim Doyle.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Another New Virtual School Blogger

Another one I found through Google's new blog search tool:

Allied Online High School Blog

Building Lives Through Online Education. Your future depends on creating a solid academic foundation. Let Allied National High School provide you with a better online high school option. This is "Education on Your Terms!"

This one appears to have a focus upon its own school and on integrating the population of homeschooled students into their online offerings.

Tags: blog, blogging, blogs, , , ,

Thursday, April 20, 2006

New Virtual School Blogger

I found this blog through Google's new blog search tool:

Distance Learning

This is an open forum to seek information, opinions, applications, barriers, and solutions for implementing distance learning as a classroom utility in all K-12 classrooms.

In looking through the current entries, it appears to be focused upon virtual schooling in Missouri, at least that's what the last dozen or so entries have been about - a bill moving through the Missouri legislature concerning virtual schooling.

In any regard, it appears that they have been around and fairly active over the past four or five months and now I have added them to my blogroll (found at the bottom left).

Tags: blog, blogging, blogs, , , ,

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Virtual School Symposium - One Month to Deadline

NACOL is pleased to provide the premier virtual learning conference that will bring teachers, administrators, and policy makers representing online learning programs in grades K-12 together in 2006.

The Virtual School Symposium (VSS) is the North American Council for Online Learning’s premiere K-12 education conference with the latest in online learning trends, professional development, research, networking opportunities and solutions for offering online learning to all K-12 students. Save-the-date now and hold your calendar for November 5-7, 2006 in Dallas, Texas.

NACOL's symposium, "Next Generation Education: Redesign Powered By Online Learning" will take place from November 5-7 in Plano, Texas. NACOL is now accepting presentation proposals for the conference. For consideration, submit your Presentation Proposal Application to VSS2006proposal@nacol.org by May 15, 2006.

For more information, see http://www.nacol.org/events/vss/

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Still nothing from the Google service, but some from my new Yahoo news alert service.

ONLINE LEARNING ON THE RISE IN PA.
Citizens Voice Sun, 02 Apr 2006 5:42 AM PDT

WILKES-BARRE — Worksheets, alphabet charts, school books and computer equipment fill Lisa Yancheck’s bright dining room.

UM Online High School Introduces 'Virtual Clubs'
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance Mon, 03 Apr 2006 4:55 AM PDT

Online education isn't just a solitary pursuit anymore. At the University of Miami Online High School, a new wave of "virtual clubs" is putting the "school" back in "virtual school."

Schools in an online world
The Post and Courier Mon, 03 Apr 2006 4:03 AM PDT

Kenny Softness is one of 21,500 high school students in Florida with the ability to study foreign languages, follow Advanced Placement instruction and meet other elective requirements by logging on to a home computer.

Information session for virtual school
Hot Springs Village Voice Tue, 04 Apr 2006 11:14 PM PDT

Parents interested in the Arkansas Virtual School - an internetbased, K-7 public school run through the Arkansas Department of Education - can attend informational meetings at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Central Arkansas Library in Little Rock.

High school students delivering babies? Welcome to Med School 101
Stanford Report Wed, 05 Apr 2006 11:36 AM PDT

Sitting in the doctor’s seat, a 15-year-old girl furrowed her brow, preparing to oversee a birth. The procedure in question was a simulation using a robot, but it was very real for her and dozens of other Bay Area high school students who participated in a day of special classes at the medical school.

Correction Bill Good News for E-Schools
SYS-CON Media Thu, 06 Apr 2006 1:18 PM PDT

The following statement may be attributed to Leonard Cosentino, President of the Ohio Coalition of eSchool Families and may be used in whole or in part.

Southmoreland proposes budget
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Thu, 06 Apr 2006 9:16 PM PDT

Southmoreland School District business manager Bill Porter presented a balanced 2006-07 budget of $26,240,234 to school directors on Thursday.

Cyberschooling provides Rockwood teen the best of both worlds
Daily American Fri, 07 Apr 2006 10:26 PM PDT

According to Janee Romesberg, cyberschooling is an ideal educational alternative for her.

Riley talks technology
Jacksonville News Fri, 07 Apr 2006 11:22 AM PDT

Governor Bob Riley toured White Plains High School and visited with students in Amelia White’s Spanish class who are part of the Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide (ACCESS) Distance Learning program.

State turns down charter school's request for renewal
Hutchinson News Fri, 07 Apr 2006 3:29 AM PDT

The Kansas Department of Education recommended against renewal of Hutchinson Cyber Charter School, but local officials hope to change the state's mind.

Directors presented with balanced budget
Daily Courier Fri, 07 Apr 2006 5:41 AM PDT

Southmoreland School District Business Manager Bill Porter presented a balanced 2006-07 spending plan to school directors Thursday night.

Private schools, online sessions offer surfers flexibilty
Florida Today Fri, 07 Apr 2006 11:03 PM PDT

Surfers now have plenty of options to getting an education, from virtual online schools to flexible classroom tutoring.

Having an independent streak
Sonoma Index-Tribune Fri, 07 Apr 2006 10:33 PM PDT

04.07.06 - This article is the second of a series on the many ways local students go about getting an education outside of classroom walls. The last article looked at virtual charter schools; the next will explore home schooling.

Informational session about digital learning
Lancaster Eagle-Gazette Sat, 08 Apr 2006 3:42 AM PDT

LANCASTER - Ohio Connections Academy informative session to provide parents information about public virtual learning options will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Rodeway Inn and Rockmill Conference Center, VIP room, 1858 N. Memorial Drive.

School in Danger of Closing
WIBW-TV Topeka Sat, 08 Apr 2006 4:22 PM PDT

An Internet-based charter school that helps home-schooled children readjust to regular school is in danger of closing its virtual doors. State education officials have recommended against renewing the charter of Hutchinson Cyber Charter School.

Education examination
Florida Today Sat, 08 Apr 2006 11:11 PM PDT

Florida lawmakers are plowing through dozens of education issues this session that could affect more than 2.5 million public school students across the state.

Getting a head start
Monroe Evening News Sun, 09 Apr 2006 1:01 AM PDT

Mason High School students are taking advantage of unique electives. ERIE - A senior at Mason High School, Matt Cerveny is taking advantage of new classes to help further his education.

State not ready to approve charter school in Hutch
The Wichita Eagle Sun, 09 Apr 2006 11:35 PM PDT

HUTCHINSON -- After the Kansas Department of Education recommended against renewing its charter, the Hutchinson Cyber Charter School is planning to try again.

Meeting talks about virtual public school
Lancaster Eagle-Gazette Tue, 11 Apr 2006 1:41 PM PDT

LANCASTER — Parents can learn more about Ohio Connections Academy during an information session Wednesday. The Ohio Connections Academy is a public charter school that allows students to be taught in a home school environment.

First virtual high school for the gifted
San Jose Mercury News Wed, 12 Apr 2006 12:18 PM PDT

Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth is taking the next logical step: launching what is believed to be the nation's first online high school for gifted students.

Southern approves contract with Virtual Learning Academy
East Liverpool Review Wed, 12 Apr 2006 9:47 PM PDT

The Southern Local Board of Education handled a number of items at its Monday meeting, including approving a contract that could result in students returning to the district. The contract with Jefferson County ESC was approved for Virtual Learning Academy.

Area kids can log in to 'virtual school'
The Sacramento Bee Thu, 13 Apr 2006 5:09 AM PDT

When it comes to shopping, medical advice, even dating, sometimes surfing the Internet is just easier than going out.

Board Passes Resolution Asking General Assembly, PA Department of Education to Protect Cyber School Funding
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance Thu, 13 Apr 2006 6:19 AM PDT

The board of the Pennsylvania Families for Public Cyber Schools this week unanimously approved a resolution asking members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the state Department of Education to protect funding for Pennsylvania's public charter and cyber schools.

Home-schooling takes digital approach
CentralOhio.com Fri, 14 Apr 2006 5:13 AM PDT

FAIRFIELD COUNTY - Cell phones have replaced pay phones, iPods have replaced the Walkman - and now some people say virtual schools are beginning to replace traditional public schools.

This one comess from eSchool News Today.

Mich. first to mandate online learning

Looking to improve the level of rigor in high school classrooms and better prepare students for the realities of the modern workforce, Michigan lawmakers have approved a bill that requires every stude...
Apr 3 FULL STORY

And finally these two come from the ASCD SmartBrief.

Ohio board to pay online charter school for enrollment mistakes (Akron Beacon Journal - Ohio)

Educators are under pressure to improve student test scores. They are looking for results. Glencoe e-Solutions deliver the results you're looking for. These three online programs will help you integrate technology into core academic areas, and improve student performance in math, reading, writing, science and social studies. Each takes a different approach, giving you the flexibility you need.

Stanford to launch cyberschool for gifted teens (The Mercury News - California)

Later this month, Stanford University will begin accepting applications from very bright students for its new virtual high school for gifted youth, due to open this fall. The $12,000-a-year school, the first of its kind in the nation, will initially admit about 100 students in grades 10 through 12.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

How Do We Evaluate Virtual School Teachers?

It is probably good that ended the entires containing the list of links off with one that included links to teaching online or in a virtual school. I think I included this link the last time I posted an entry about virtual teaching (see Teaching in Virtual Schools), if not it has been sitting in my Bloglines ever since then. The entry I'm talking about is Evaluating Online Teachers from Darren over at Teaching and Developing Online.

His entry actually links to an entry from another blog, Bits and Bytes, where the author simply quotes from an article entitled Evaluating Online Teachers Is Largely a Virtual Task without any commentary of her own.

Now I have been involved as a practicing teacher in evaluations of the job that I was doing in the classroom, where the principal came in and watched me teach a lesson, filled out a form that was mostly circles to fill in, and then sat down with me a few days later and we discussed what he saw and the particular selections he had made in those circles. Before that, as a student teacher in my pre-service Education program I was observed and evaluated four times by an Assistant Principal, using this form that had a few circles to be filled in and a general comments area that made up about half of the one page document.

As a student in teacher education, I have been a field instructor for secondary social studies student teachers where we would meet with the student for a half hour before the observation, observe the student teach, sit down with them for an hour or soin a post-observation conference, and then write up a two to four page report which addressed seven or eight essay style questions about what we had observed and discussed.

As someone who has been involved, but never evaluated as an online instructor, I often wonder how it is being done? And more importantly, how it should be done?

Any thoughts?

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Teaching and Administration in Virtual Schools

I think this will probably be the final entry of links on virtual schooling, as my Bloglines is becoming more managable and, hopefully, I'll be able to post some substantial entries on some of these issues over the next few weeks.

Teaching
Administration

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Anyone Read This Book

I popped into Borders yesterday with my wife while we were escaping the San Francisco rain. Since we were in there, I did a quick search for virtual school in their system. The usual suspects were there: Kozma & Zucker, Berge & Clark, and Cavanaugh. But there was also a book there entitled:

Saunders, Laverna M. (April 1996). The Virtual School LibraryL Gateway to the Information Highway.
This was the first I had ever heard of this book and I was wondering if anyone else out there involved with virtual schooling has heard of or read this book yet?

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Teaching How To Teach Online

Okay, so I am in San Francisco at AERA this week - specifically from 7-11 April. AERA is the American Education Research Association - or the biggest educational research conference in North America. Unfortunately this means that there are only a small number of sessions that involve virtual schooling. One of those sessions was early today. According to the schedule, it was slated as:

Preparing Teachers for the Distance Learning Classroom: Evaluation of the Teacher Training Goes into Virtual Schooling (TEGIVS) Project

Sponsor: SIG-Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching and Learning

Session Participants:

Chairs: Ann D. Thompson (Iowa State University) and Dale S. Niederhauser (Iowa State University)
Discussant: Robert L. Blomeyer (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory)
Participansts: Niki E. Davis (Iowa State University), Rick Ferdig (University of Florida), Margaret D. Roblyer (University of Maryland University College), Raymond Rose (Concord Consortium), and Zahrl Schoeny (University of Virginia)

Abstract: As a result of the growth of virtual schools across the United States, K–12 school courses and diplomas are increasingly offered, either completely or partly, at a distance. In light of this increase, it is apparent that there will be demand for teachers who are prepared to teach from a distance and counselors who can support distance students. This symposium describes: (1) a model teacher training program developed by a consortium led by Iowa State University; and (2) the evaluation designed to establish its effectiveness, including dissemination through a national community of practice, instruments to measure institutional adoption, and longitudinal surveys of preservice student teachers and graduates.

In reality, the discussant and the participants changed. What happened was that Lynne Schrum (University of Utah) was the discussant. The participants that were there included Ann Thompson, Dale Niederhauser, Chad Harms, Lily Compton, and Margaret Roblyer - along with a recorded Powerpoint presentation from Rick Ferdig.

Overall, it was an interesting session. The basis of the presentation was an update on the status of this FIPSE-funded project, which is designed to provid pre-service teachers training on how to teach in a virtual school environment. This is actually a project that Cathy Cavanaugh first mentioned here in this blog as a comment on the very first entry that I posted (see Welcome to my Blog on Virtual High Schools).

What I found interesting about it was twofold. The first was the fact that this program for pre-service teachers was based upon social presence theory - or at least an interesting operationized version of it. My understanding of the way in which social presence theory was operationalized, at least as outlined by Short, Williams, and Christie (1976) was based upon two variables: intimacy and immediacy. The operational version of social presence theory that this TEGIVS program was based upon had six variables:
  1. Co-presence - being aware of others involved in the interaction
  2. Attentional allocation - the amount of attention that one allowed and that one received
  3. Perceived message understanding - basically to quote from Jackie Chan in Rush Hour, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth."
  4. Perceived affective understanding - understanding the feeling implied by the other person involved in the interaction (i.e., empathy)
  5. Perceived affective interdependence - how that sense of empathy affects how others feel
  6. Perceived behavioural interdependence - how people respond to others' involved in the interaction

This was the first time that I had ever seen social presence theory outlined in this way - according to the presenter, based upon their review of the literature.

The other that I found interesting was the way in which this group operationalized their proposed virtual schooling field experience (n.b., not the student teaching experience, but the practicum field experience). Basically it was two hours of observation of archived virtual school classes (I assume that they meant synchronous classes), followed by two hours of lurking during the real-time teaching of virtual classes, and then followed by two hours of lurking in a subject area specific virtual class. What I found interesting about this was that it seemed like just scratching the surface and also focused very heavily on the synchronous component (although I could be wrong on the second aspect). However, if it is focused upon only the synchronous instruction, I can't see much logic in this - as much (I would argue most) of the teaching in a virtual school context is down in an asynchronous manner. Further, there are many virtual schools that are based on largely or entirely asynchronous model - Florida Virtual School being one of them (and the University of Florida is one of the partners).

But those are just some initial thoughts on the first day and the only virtual schooling session thus far. I'll report on others that I attend either here or, if they are more research focused, one my AECT BlogTrack Virtual Schooling blog.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

AECT BlogTrack

Just to let e readers know of a new blog that I will be involved with for the next eight months that will also deal with virtual schooling. A group of faculty and doctoral students here at UGA submitted a blog track proposal for the up-coming Association of Educational Communications and Technology conference taking place in Dallas, Texas in October 2006 that was recently accepted. The basis of the proposal is as follows:

Emerging Trends in the Research on Online Learning Environments

Research Abstract - In this BlogTracks, seven members of an online learning research group at the University of Georgia are researching and discussing trends in the online learning literature in the context of K-12, higher education, corporate, and informal learning settings. In October, 2006, we will relate our findings to the presentations given at the AECT convention, and conclude with a summary presentation at the end of the conference where we will give recommendations for the future of effective online learning research.

Description of Proposal - Online distance learning is a hotly discussed topic in current educational research. A quick pass through six major databases of journal/periodical articles in our field found 7,502 articles that mention the term “distance learning” in the abstract—260 published in the year 2005 alone. Many more articles discuss concepts associated with distance or online learning that are called by other names. With educational institutions quickly developing policies about online learning, it is important that we as researchers have a firm grasp on the research about online education and what major trends and findings are supported by empirical data.
Needless to say that I am the K-12 guy with a focus upon virtual schooling. The feed site for all of our blogs is available at:

AECT BlogTrack Feed - http://ugaonlinelearning.suprglu.com/

My own contribution to the BlogTrack can be found at:

Virtual Schooling - http://mkbvs.edublogs.org/

Anyway, be sure to check it out and feel free to contribute over there as well. Given the similarity in topics, I'll do my best not to neglect this blog while I make contributions over there - but don't be surprised if I end up cross-posting some things (such as summaries of virtual schooling sessions here at AERA in San Francisco this week).

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

My Blog Owns Me

I got this from Playing School, Irreverently in her entry about a fifth. eh. ok. And since I have more than one blog and all of them factored into the responses for this quiz, I figured it should be posted to all of them.


25 %

My weblog owns 25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

So, it has been a couple of weeks and I haven't received the Google news alert service. I have checked into it and it looks fine, but I still haven't received anything for any of my alerts. In any regard, I have also signed up for the Yahoo news alert and that one seems to be working fine.

So, this week from the Yahoo news alert:

Group gets virtual tour of old school
Hattiesburg American Fri, 31 Mar 2006 8:36 AM PST

Architect Sarah Newton took members of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association on a virtual trip through a volunteer group's recent effort to restore the old Hattiesburg High School.

Virtual charter schooling
Sonoma Index-Tribune Thu, 30 Mar 2006 10:20 PM PST

03.31.06 - For elementary school students Natalie, Joshua and Jacob Palmgren, the school year began with a colossal shipment of boxes. Out came a year's worth of workbooks, literature, posters, art supplies - and a computer.

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