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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why Do People Take Virtual School Courses

Okay, I spend a lot of time taking about who we should be targetting when we design virtual school opportunities (see Who Are We Trying To Serve? and Who Are Virtual Schools Most Needed For? as recent examples).

But maybe a better way to start to look at this issue is from an instructional designer's perspective, and if Dr. Branch's course in ID taught me anything, the first thing you do is talk to the clients to find our where the gap is (i.e., do a needs assessment).

It appears that others have already started this process for us. More specifically, Darren over at Teaching and Developing Online and the good people over at Allied Online High School Blog have already started this for us. See:
So, if the first step is seeing why students avail themselves of virtual school opportunities, what do these reasons tell us?

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8 Comments:

Blogger Kate Logan said...

I don't want to throw you off of your ed research track w/your post, but my immediate reaction to the subject line of "why do people take virtual school courses" was this: I don't want to move! I can add: I don't like what is offered locally, I don't want to quit my job, I don't want to move my kids out of their school or away from friends and extended family, etc...

These are my personal reasons for completing bachelors and masters degrees online and I bet high school kids aren't much different.

7:10 PM  
Blogger MKB said...

That's interesting Kate, as those aren't things that would have immediately come to my mind. I would have thought of things like:

- I want the additional challenge from this specific course.
- My school doesn't offer this course.
- My school offers this course, but it doesn't fit into my schedule.
- I want to take this course, but I already have a full in-school schedule.
- This will help me get into college/university.
- This will be useful to my future college/university career.

But then again, my experience has been with online rural school students or students engaged in online AP-level courses.

MKB

7:20 PM  
Blogger Kate Logan said...

I agree w/ your reasons for kids attending online courses, if those kids are at the upper end of the high school spectrum.

When we read a kids application essay or their first biography essay we hear things like:
--It is closer to home
--I don't have to deal with cliques
--Teachers aren't breathing down my back
--I can take as much time as I need for _______ (insert homework, test, quiz, etc...)
--Most of the kids at school are like me.
--I can't fit into the traditional high school schedule

I think our kids are pretty aware of their educational needs, but again our kids are from the opposite end of the education spectrum than the ones you work with.

The reasons I listed in my original post were my personal reasons and I live in about as rural of an area as it gets. (central Wyoming)

8:43 AM  
Blogger MKB said...

Now I see where you are coming from, as these appear to be a population of "at risk students" - which I think you told me before at some point (but my mind is like a sive for those kinds of things).

MKB

10:13 AM  
Blogger Kate Logan said...

I think our conversation is really important. It shows there is a real different motivatation set for online learning depending on the type of students you serve. The top AP kids have reasons that you listed and at-risk kids have reasons that I listed. This is important for any school to understand if they are going to try to serve students from one or the other group or the whole spectrum.

If you are trying to serve at-risk kids or recapture dropouts, you have to understand the motivation set isn't necessarly college entrance. They type of grades you expect from your students is also going to be different as well as their needs as online learners.

12:03 PM  
Blogger MKB said...

I agree...

Are there others out there who serve K-12 populations other than these two that would like to add to the list that Kate and I have started to generate?

MKB

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Denise said...

My daughter takes virtual courses through FLVS. She is a homeschooler and there are some areas where we were in need of a tutor or some additional resources, none of which seemed easy to find. FLVS offered a quick and easy way for her to get what she needed.

She had such a good experience that she's increased her virtual course load and added some extra classes just because they were interesting or seemed like a good idea.

Right now, she's taking an SAT prep class online - just because.

3:19 PM  
Blogger MKB said...

Denise,

Does your daughter complete some of her courses from a brick and mortar school as well (i.e, a combined approach - some in school and some online)? Or does she take a regular load in the classroom and then her virtual courses are above and beyond?

MKB

3:34 PM  

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