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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Statistics for October

Anyway, as of this moment there are 8087 hits to this blog based upon the straight counter. It read 7572 at the end of August.These hits came from 524 unique visitors: 473 first timers and 51 repeat offenders for an average of 17 visitors a day.

These visitors came from the United States, Canada, Turkey, New Zealand, Israel, Australia, Kenya, and India.

Popular pages included:
Until next month...

Tags: blog, blogging, blogs, , , ,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Starting with the Yahoo! News Alerts for virtual school.

MMSD Working On Virtual School
WISC Channel3000.com via Yahoo! News Mon, 23 Oct 2006 7:52 PM PDT

The Madison Metropolitan School District is developing a virtual campus and curriculum. The idea has been in the works for several years, but the district hopes to make it widely available for the 2006-2007 school year.

MMSD Working On Virtual School
Channel 3000 Tue, 24 Oct 2006 7:52 AM PDT

MMSD staff is developing a curriculum for its new virtual campus. The district hopes to have the virtual school up and running by the next school year.

Online high school is a virtual reality
Post-Bulletin Fri, 27 Oct 2006 7:58 AM PDT

HOUSTON -- High school junior Crystal Brand doesn't have to worry about being late for class, remembering her locker combination or forgetting her backpack.Related• Houston leads state in online education

Moving on to the Google News Alert for virtual school.

To Tailor Schedules, Students Log In to Online Classes
Education Week News - Bethesda,MD,USA

... Many students who take courses from the Florida Virtual School, considered the largest state-sponsored online school in the country, select those required by ...

Chat about the Lawrence Virtual School with Principal Gary Lewis
Lawrence Journal World - Lawrence,KS,USA

The Lawrence Virtual School has grown to more than 600 students this year -- many scattered across Kansas taking courses via the Internet — or off traveling ...

Arkansas Virtual School Posts Strong Test Scores
Yahoo! News (press release) - USA19

/PRNewswire/ -- Students in the Arkansas Virtual School (ARVS) posted another year of strong scores, exceeding the state average in all but one category on ...

Lt. Gov. Purdue Officially Launches Virtual Public School
Asheville Citizen-Times - NC,USA

... year. More than 8,000 students across the state enrolled last summer in the AP exam reviews offered through the virtual school. ...

In US, questions about online high school coursework
International Herald Tribune - France

... Twenty-five states operate public, Internet-based schools like the Florida Virtual School, the nation's largest, which has about 40,000 students. ...

North Carolina launches virtual public school project
Myrtle Beach Sun News - Myrtle Beach,SC,USA

... The virtual school went through a pilot phase for a year, and more than 8,000 North Carolina students enrolled in Advanced Placement exam reviews offered ...

Virtual school will give remote students greater access: minister
Victoria Times Colonist - Victoria,BC,Canada

VANCOUVER -- Education Minister Shirley Bond says the LearnNow BC interactive virtual school will allow students in remote and rural areas to find courses they ...

Finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

NW Arkansas today
Arkansas Democrat Gazette - AR,USA

... Rogers Public Library, 711 S. Dixieland Road: School-age Story Time, 7 pm today; Cyber Stories, 4 pm Tuesday; Bilingual Story Time, 6: 30 pm Tuesday; Lap Sit, 9 ...

Grand Jury Testimony Underway In Cyber School Case
KDKA - Pittsburg,PA,USA

... The first witness called before the grand jury was Michael Barney, the Cyber school's former business manager who was fired by school founder Nick Trombetta. ...

Myspace puts teens at risk from predators
Alton Telegraph - Alton,IL,USA

... s information technology officer, also is on the FBI’s Metro East Cyber Crime and ... They also can find out where the youth goes to school, works, or what ...

Editorial Bob Casey Jr. for Senate
Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA...

Santorum, whose primary residence is in Virginia, exploited a Pennsylvania law by enrolling five of his children in classes at a Pennsylvania cyber school. .. [.See all stories on this topic]

Online charter school probed
Leader Times - Kittanning,PA,USA

... Nick Trombetta, who serves dual roles as chief administrative officer of the cyber school and superintendent of the Midland Borough School District, said it ...

Cyber school
New Brunswick Home News Tribune - New Brunswick,NJ,USA

... new development in higher education has allowed busy professionals, put-upon stay-at-home parents and people who live in remote places to finish school. ...

Fiber optic loop links borough, schools, Rowan
The Gloucester County Times - Woodbury,NJ,USA

... a 7.5-mile fiber optic loop today that links borough facilities with the school district and Rowan University. Known as the Glassboro

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

From My Bloglines Account About Virtual Schooling

So, I've let my Bloglines account start to overflow with entries dealing with virtual schooling again, so it is time for another one of my list of links. I'll try and add commentary when appropriate.

Virtual Schooling and Homeschooling
Selecting Virtual School Opportunities
Students and Distance Education
Research on Virtual Schooling
Policies and Politics of Virtual Schooling
New Virtual Schools and Virtual School Opportunities
Teaching in Virtual Schools
That's it for another while... Hopefully they don't built up again (although with my dissertation and the Virtual School Symposium on my plate, I imagine another one of these will pop up in a month or so).

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Re-post from the AECT BlogTrack - The Greatest Challenge for the Virtual High School

Keeping with the once weekly theme, here is the next installment from my participation in the AECT BlogTrack presentation. This one comes from back in April.


Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). While there are literally thousands of sessions on almost as many different topics, the number of presentations dealing with K-12 online learning research projects can almost be counted on a single hand. One of these half dozen sessions was given by Sarah Haavind, based on his dissertation research at Harvard University, which examined collaboration in courses offered by the Virtual High School (VHS) consortium. Her presentation was interesting and she found many things that I believe could be valuable to othr virtual schools, however, there was one comment that she made that really caught my attention and that I just couldn’t get past. In the rationale for her study, she cited the five year evaluation of the VHS - Zucker and Kozma (2003) - and made the claim that according to this document the greatest challenge remaining with the VHS was increasing the level of collaboration in courses offered by the VHS.
Having read this book fairly thoroughly, I was both surprised and a little offended to have hear this comment. While I believe that student collaboration is an important aspect of the virtual school experience (in any virtual school) and that most do not do a good job of it, the greatest remaining challenge just floored me. What about making virtual school opportunities available to more than a select group of students? When you look at the virtual schools currently operating in the United States, you would be hard pressed to find one that is more selective in their student population than the VHS. Basically, in order to be successful in a VHS course this adolescent learner must become an independent, autonomous learner.

Concern about learner autonomy is a reality for virtual schooling, as evidenced by a number of recent studies. This past year North Central Regional Education Laboratory (NCREL) funded a series of studies in various quantitative aspects of virtual schooling across the United States. One of these studies examined student success in a secondary school algebra offered through the FLVS, in which Cavanuagh, Gillan, Bosnick, Hess and Scott (2005) noted that the virtual school students who did take their assessment may have been more academically motivated and naturally higher achieving students. In a similar NCREL study of student performance in algebra between virtual school and traditional classroom students, McLeod, Hughes, Brown, Choi and Maeda (2005) also speculated that the reason for the high virtual school student performance was due to the high dropout rate in virtual school courses. Many of the low-achieving virtual school students had already been removed from the sample prior to the assessment. They also indicated that the majority of virtual school students in the sample were doing the course for the second or third time, so familiarity with the content and the motivation to take advantage of their “last chance” were also potential factors in the difference.

In many studies like these two NCREL studies, the low retention or high attrition rates are pointed to as factors influencing the outcome of any comparison to classroom student performance. This problem, while better documented at the post-secondary level (see Moore, 2001), is a common one for virtual schools. For example, Clark (2002) found that the Illinois Virtual High School (IVHS) had a completion rate of only 53% during its first year of operation and 80% the following year. In their evaluation of the FLVS, Bigbie and McCarroll (2000) found that over half of the students who completed FLVS courses scored an A in their course and only 7% received a failing grade. They also found, however, that between 25% and 50% of students had dropped out of their FLVS over the previous two-year period. These findings lead one to wonder, as McLeod et al. (2005) did earlier, if all of the low-achieving students had already dropped out of their courses. The nature of students who are served by virtual schools has been a consistent discussion in the literature. Clark (2002), in his evaluation of the IVHS found that students who were “highly motivated, high achieving, self-directed and/or who liked to work independently” typically did well in the online environment (p. 41). These characteristics are more often attributed to adult learners, who are more self-directed and independent in their orientation to learning than adolescents.

This brings us back to the “most research virtual school in the United States,” the VHS consortium. The findings above are also supported by the work of SRI International and their five-year evaluation of the VHS. In their first year evaluation of the VHS, Kozma, Zucker and Espinoza (1998) found that the vast majority of students in their courses were planning to attend a four-year colleges. They also reported that two thirds of the teachers indicated that the VHS students were less likely to drop out of school than students in their classroom-based courses. These findings led the evaluators to conclude that “the current VHS curriculum [was] dominated by advanced courses that cater to students who are successful, independent, and college bound” (p. 49).

The following year, Espinoza, Dove, Zucker and Kozma (1999) reached similar conclusions when they stated that “VHS courses are predominantly designated as ‘honors,’ and students enrolled are mostly college bound” (p. 49). These finding were not surprising to the evaluators, as they indicated that the VHS’ own faculty handbook promoted this kind of selectivity:

Although all students should have access to the VHS catalog, we recommend that the school site coordinator and guidance counselors select students who can work independently and handle responsibility. (p.50)

In both the Clark (2002) and the Espinoza et al. (1999) evaluations, the authors recommended that the VHS take steps to increase the range of students served by the VHS. During the third year evaluation of the VHS, Kozma, Zucker, Espinoza, McGhee, Yarnall, Zalles and Lewis (2000) took a slightly different approach and focused upon four classes as a case study of the VHS model. The four courses selected were Advanced Placement Statistics, Modern Classics, Photographic Vision, and Pre-Engineering and Design. The students from these classes were described by their teachers as very capable academically and college bound. However, even with this selectivity the evaluators still found a higher dropout rate for the four VHS courses than for the face-to-face comparison groups. In a summary of their five-year evaluation of the VHS, Zucker and Kozma (2003) released the book The Virtual High School: Teaching Generation V. In this volume, they reported that students who were not expected to succeed in the VHS environment were discouraged from taking VHS courses and that more than four out of every five students in VHS courses were college preparatory.

Given these findings in virtual school environments in general, and specifically in the Virtual High School consortium (including being referenced in the Zucker and Komza book that Haavind based her dissertation on), is student collaborative in K-12 online learning really the greatest problem facing the VHS or any other virtual school?

Selected Bibliography:

Bigbie, C., & McCarroll, W. (2000). The Florida High School evaluation 1999-2000 report. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University.

Cavanuagh, C., Gillan, K.J., Bosnick, J., Hess, M., & Scott, H. (2005). Succeeding at the gateway: Secondary algebra learning in the virtual school. Unpublished report, Jacksonville, FL: University of North Florida.

Clark, T. (2002). Final report: Illinois Virtual High School, 2001-2002. Aurora, IL: Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

Espinoza, C., Dove, T., Zucker, A., & Kozma, R. (1999). An evaluation of the Virtual High School after two years in operation. Arlington, VA: SRI International. Retrieved on July 31, 2005 from http://ctl.sri.com/publications/downloads/evalvhs2yrs.pdf

Kozma, R., Zucker, A., & Espinoza, C. (1998). An evaluation of the Virtual High School after one year in operation. Arlington, VA: SRI International. Retrieved on July 31, 2005 from http://ctl.sri.com/publications/downloads/evalvhs1yr.pdf

Kozma, R., Zucker, A., Espinoza, C., McGhee, R., Yarnall, L., Zalles, D., & Lewis, A. (2000). The online course experience: Evaluation of the Virtual High School’s third year of implementation, 1999-2000. Arlington, VA: SRI International. Retrieved on July 31, 2005 from http://ctl.sri.com/publications/downloads/VHS_Online_Experience.pdf

McLeod, S., Hughes, J.E., Brown, R., Choi, J., & Maeda, Y. (2005). Algebra achievement in virtual and traditional schools. Unpublished report. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates.

Moore, P. (2001). Access and success in web courses at an urban multicultural community college: The student’s perspective. Unpublished Dissertation, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AR.

Zucker, A., & Kozma, R. (2003). The Virtual High School: Teaching generation V. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.


This entry was one of the few that generated a bit of discussion and even a trackback (granted that was from here). Anyway, here was the initial discussion:

Rick Says:
April 12th, 2006 at 3:14 pm

Michael,

How are the pigeons? Very well articulated post. I agree that access is
sometimes swept under the rug in our efforts to improve learning. A good
question posed by David Wiley of Utah State to grad students at AECT two years
ago was whether it was more valuable to work to improve learning by 1, 2, or 3%
for a select few students, or to work to improve access to the vast majority of
people and children who have no opportunity for formal schooling at all. He
makes a strong case that the more pressing issue at hand right now is improving
access, not improving learning … because we have centuries of work on how to
improve learning and have made great strides in that area already.

I don’t really go along with that assessment completely. I feel that in the
new postmodern Information Age that we are in, there are many new unanswered
questions about how learning happens in today’s society. So I think research on
improving learning is still contemporary and important. But I also agree that we
often neglect a very large issue of simply improving access more equitably to
all students who want to learn.

As you wrote, it is probably premature to say collaboration is the most
important challenge of VHS when access is still limited.

Michael Says:
April 12th, 2006 at 3:26 pm

Rick,

Limited? What percentage of secondary school students do you believe to be
included in the description of “students who can work independently and handle
responsibility” and “very capable academically and college bound”?

What we are talking about here is the top 1% to 5% of students in any given
school. Thinking of Georgia as a frame of reference, secondary schools typically
have 1500 to 2500 students (sometimes more in urban and suburban areas and
sometimes less in rural areas). So, the VHS serves somewhere between 15 to 125
of those students (1% of 1500 to 5% of 2500).

Yes Virginia, there are bigger challenges than collaboration.

MKB

Virtual High School Meanderings Says:
May 16th,
2006 at 7:35 am

Being Successful …

Okay, this is something that I have played around with in my head for a while
now - how does a student become successful in a virtual school environment?

On my AECT blogtrack blog (Virtual Schooling), I posted an entry a few weeks
back entitled The..

So, what do you think? Would like to add to this discussion here (which is really the purpose of these re-postings)?

Tags: , , AERA 2006, , , , ,

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Starting with the Yahoo! News Alerts for virtual school.

Ball State denies bid for virtual schools
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Tue, 17 Oct 2006 2:39 AM PDT

A group aspiring to open virtual charter schools in Fort Wayne and Anderson was denied a charter by Ball State University for not submitting a complete application.

North Carolina Launches Virtual Public School Project
WRAL-TV 5 Raleigh Wed, 18 Oct 2006 12:57 PM PDT

North Carolina launched a virtual public school Wednesday that allows students to take classes online.

NC launches virtual school project
News 14 Charlotte Wed, 18 Oct 2006 12:34 PM PDT

RALEIGH -- North Carolina launched a virtual public school Wednesday that allows students to take classes online. Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue said the program would give students opportunities to advance their education by offering courses that may not be available in some local schools.

Lt. Gov. Purdue Officially Launches Virtual Public School
Asheville Citizen-Times Wed, 18 Oct 2006 11:45 AM PDT

Lt. Gov. Beverly Purdue launched on Wednesday the North Carolina Virtual Public School. The initiative, announced at a joint technology meeting in Research Triangle Park, is a statewide effort to make online classes available to students.

North Carolina launches virtual public school project
The Herald-Sun Wed, 18 Oct 2006 11:16 AM PDT

North Carolina launched a virtual public school Wednesday that allows students to take classes online. Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue said the program would give students opportunities to advance their education by offering courses that may not be available in some local schools. Online classes would supplement students' regular in-school courses. The classes are available free of charge.

Students try out virtual learning
Derby Daily Reporter Tue, 17 Oct 2006 8:41 PM PDT

For the first time, Virtual Prescriptive Learning (VPL) was introduced during summer school at Derby High School. Students enrolled in Language Arts were highly satisfied with the program, Kris Sherwood, DHS principal, told Board of Education members last week.

Purnell Swett offers virtual look at class
The Robesonian Fri, 20 Oct 2006 8:14 AM PDT

PEMBROKE - More than 100 people, including lawmakers, educators and technology leaders, met Wednesday in Raleigh to get a virtual look at how the new model technology high schools are working in North Carolina.

News: New virtual schools are hitting Chicago
WNDU 16 Thu, 19 Oct 2006 8:09 PM PDT

You are viewing the print version of this page. Click here to view the default screen view.

North Carolina launches virtual public school project
News 14 Carolina Fri, 20 Oct 2006 5:16 PM PDT

RALEIGH -- North Carolina launched a virtual public school Wednesday that allows students to take classes online. Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue said the program would give students opportunities to advance their education by offering courses that may not be available in some local schools.

Moving to the Yahoo! News Alerts for cyber school.

Grand Jury Testimony Underway In Cyber School Case
KDKA Pittsburgh Tue, 17 Oct 2006 5:50 PM PDT

A grand jury started taking testimony today in a case first exposed by the KDKA Investigators. They'll be looking into possible misuse of tax dollars at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School - a school based in Beaver County that teaches children over the internet.

Cyber School Going Before Grand Jury
KDKA Pittsburgh Mon, 16 Oct 2006 6:20 PM PDT

A state grand jury begins taking testimony tomorrow in a case first raised by the KDKA Investigators. The grand jury will be looking at whether a local internet charter school misspent millions of taxpayer’s dollars.

And next from the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Name needed for new 'virtual school'
Agoura Hills Acorn - CA,USA

The virtual school for kin- dergarten through 12th grade students being formed in the Las Virgenes Unified School District may not have walls, classrooms or ...

State accreditation panel meets on health education, virtual ...
Jackson Clarion Ledger - Jackson,MS,USA

... considers education policy and accreditation issues for the state's public schools, will discuss requiring health education and the Mississippi Virtual School. ...

Lawsuit Is Filed Against Charter, Board
Southwest News-Herald - Chicago,IL,USA

... The lawsuit alleges, however, that the virtual school is actually a home-based school using home-based curriculum, which violates the Illinois School Code and ...

The Protectors: Virtual School Photo Floor Plans
NewsChannel 9 WSYR - Syracuse,NY,USA\n

... began in February, and 900 photographs later, DeWitt police now\nhave a better picture of how to respond to emergency inside one\nschool. The virtual floor plan ...

And finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Cyber School Going Before Grand Jury
KDKA - Pittsburg,PA,USA

... Teaching kids over the internet has been an economic shot in the arm for the Midland, Beaver County and made Pennsylvania Cyber School founder Nick Trombetta a ...

Riverside wants charter school policy
Beaver County Times - Beaver County,PA,USA

... Riverside School Board will ... If passed, the bill would shift funding of charter and cyber schools from individual districts to the state Department of Education ...

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Repost From the AECT Blog Track - My Background in Virtual Schooling

Starting with this entry, each week I will post one entry from the recent AECT Blog Track that we had on online learning. As you'll recall, my contribution to that Blog Track dealt with virtual schooling. So, beginning with the very first post, over the next twenty or thirty weeks, I'll post one every week for your review.





To start of my blogging journey for this AECT Blogtrack, I thought it would be useful for the readers for me to outline my own practical and research background in virtual schooling.

As an opening, might I suggest taking a look at the “About Me“ page that is linked into this blog, as it does a pretty good job of outlining my background in the practice of virtual schooling. The highlights include holding the position of online teacher, course developer, and administrator with the Centre for Advanced Placement Education, the Illinois Virtual High School, the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation, and AventaLearning Inc..

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.

Finally, I have also maintained a separate blog entitled Virtual High School Meanderings (which is linked into the BlogRoll) for the past year. So, as we begin this journey over the next six months - beginning with the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association coming up next week - you now have an idea of the professional and academic perspective I bring to this area.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Today's Students

I can't recall if I've talked about this issue here before or if it was on the AECT Blog Track blog that I was keeping on virtual schooling, but the issue of the nature of today's students are of great interest to me. Partially as a teacher educator, I want to make sure that my aspiring teachers of tomorrow are equipped to deal with the students that they will encounter. But mostly as someone interested in virtual schooling because if today's students really are different, than we need to take that into account when designing virtual school opportunities.

There has been a lot of talk around this topic in the blogsphere lately. Just a slice of some of the entries include:

I post these here because the basic premise of most, if not all of these entries is that there IS something different about today's youth.

In fact, at the AECT conference that I just returned from the very first keynote speaker that came in to talk to us, this guy from Apple Education, talked all about these digital natives that we now have in our classrooms. The problem that I have with this, and personally my gut does tell me that there are some differences, but that's just it. In everything that I have read and everything that I have heard it is based upon people's gut or simply there observations, and while observations and gut instincts can be correct at times, I need someone to show me the money - I want to see some research.

Which brings me to one of the presentations that I did attend at AECT, an update on the third edition of the AECT handbook. In the materials provided in that session, this abstract by one of my co-chairs and a fellow doctoral student here at UGA caught my attention.

Generation Differences and Educational Technology
Research

Thomas C. Reeves, The University of Georgia
Eun Jung Oh, The University of Georgia

Abstract

Generational differences are the subject of much popular speculation, but relatively little substantive research. Among the speculations are suggestions that instructional designers should take generational differences into account when developing instruction and that games and simulations will be more effective learning environments with today's younger generation than they have with earlier ones. This review examines the evidence in both research and popular literature that supports (or fails to support) these speculations. Most of the popular literature on the subject of generational differences appear to rest of various limited data, almost always conducted by survey methods characterized by a lack of reliability and validity data. The most recent research based upon rigorous analysis of previous psychological studies do yield some evidence of substantial generational differences, especially between those generations born before and after 1970.

Having Dr. Reeves as a co-chair, I know that these generational differences are largely the difference in the sense of entitlement felt by today's youth compared to youth of other generations. This is well described in Jean Twenge's book, Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before.

So, are today's students different - the results of this fairly comprehensive review of the literature seem to indicate that they are. Are these differences based upon their native-ness to digital technology or the fact that their brains are wired differently because of their use of technology - it would appear not.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Virtual and Cyber Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! news alert for virtual school.

No dress code for cyber school studentsphillyburbs.com
Sat, 07 Oct 2006 7:12 AM PDT

The virtual school started in Pennsylvania in 2003 with 300 students. Now, more than 1,600 kids are enrolled.

Name needed for new 'virtual school'
The Acorn Thu, 12 Oct 2006 1:10 AM PDT

The virtual school for kin- dergarten through 12th grade students being formed in the Las Virgenes Unified School District may not have walls, classrooms or the trimmings of a typical school building, but it still needs a name.

On A Virtual Course
The Tampa Tribune Fri, 13 Oct 2006 9:59 PM PDT

TAMPA - Teens love speed, they don't pay attention and there's more to distract them.

The Google News Alert for cyber school.

Editorial: Teaching in the 21st century
Fort Pierce Tribune (subscription) - Fort Pierce,FL,USA

... Online "virtual schools" and "cyber charters" are the fastest growing segment of K ... At Florida Virtual School, America's largest, some 21,000 students log into ...

Internet cafe ban sparks wide debate
China Daily - China

... The move came after the cyber centres failed to prevent underage students from coming in. ... in the Internet for hours a day have now returned to school, and are ... [See all stories on this topic]

Houston gamer headed to Cyber World Games
Houston Chronicle - United States

... Sifuentes, a graduate of Alief Hastings High School, said video games are a love, not ... The World Cyber Games includes eight events, each a different video game. ...

A People in Exile
East West Magazine - Scottsdale,AZ,USA

... We walk down to the school one hot summer afternoon and join in a game of ... Behind me in a small cyber café sits a tall 20-something Tibetan man cooing into the ...

OBSESSIVE GAMING PUTS HIM IN MENTAL HOSPITAL
Electric New Paper - Singapore,Singapore

THIS 16-year-old led a virtual life as a cyber warrior, and spent countless ... But it was when he entered secondary school that he became obsessed with violent ...

Top Cyber News 10/9
WLNS - Lansing,MI,USA

... Number three for August is "Dora The Explorer Fairytale Adventure Play Pack," followed by "Elementary School Success 2007 Deluxe." The #5 entry- "Jumpstart ...

As the November Elections Near...
CounterBias.com - USA

... although his family’s primary residence is in Leesburg, Va. The cyber school is open to all children of Pennsylvania residents. ...

Cyber Bully: An old problem goes high-tech
Helena Independent Record - Helena,MT,USA

... If cyber bullying happens at school, students can lose rights to use computers in the buildings. Consequences usually vary, depending ... [See all stories on this topic]

Finally, the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Virtual school starts online newspaper
Lawrence Journal World - Lawrence,KS,USA

... Looking to build the type of unity that you might find in a traditional school, Virtual School administrators have rolled out a tried-and-true concept: a high ...

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wrapping Up Virtual Schooling at AECT

So, I'm back in Athens. I didn't get to blog as much as I wanted to at AECT, largely due to my duties as an AECT intern. On Friday I had two more sessions on virtual schooling. The first was "What Are They Doing? How Are They Doing It?" The program abstract read:

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.

The full proposal submitted back in January can be viewed at:


The second one was "'Effective Web-based Design for Secondary School Students" and its abstract was written as:

In this session, the author will consider the findings of a study on the
perception of course developers, electronic teachers, and students on the
characteristics of effective web-based design for secondary school students.
Through interviews and focus groups, the perceptions of the participants on
various web-based components, instructional strategies, and the effectiveness of
both based upon the experiences of the participants are investigated in a
virtual high school context.

The full proposal can be viewed at:

In addition to these two presentations, I also facilitated one that dealt with virtual schooling. It was entitled "Virtual High School Something Old, Somrthing New, Something Borrowed, Just For You" and was presented by Amy Scheick, Glenda Gunter, and Robert Kenny - all of the University of Central Florida. The abstract for the presentation was:
Distance education has a long history in K12 education. In the last 10 years,
distance education captured a new dimension with virtual high schools offering
innovative educational opportunities for students between the ages of 12 and 18.
Who’s interested and how has this choice affected them? This study employed
qualitative and quantitative measures to review the personality types and traits
of high school students who enrolled in a state sponsored Midwestern virtual
high school.

And the original full proposal can be viewed at:

I wish I had taken notes on this presentation so that I could have blogged about it, but as a facilitator I was more intersted in watching time and managing the question and answer period.
I should also note that I was only able to capture one of my own sessions on my iPod, so I'll try and podcast that through this blog in the next few days. Until then...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Virtual Schooling at AECT

So I had the first of my roundtable sessions this morning. It was titled "Secondary Students Perceptions of Web-Based Learning". The abstract in the program read:
The proposed paper reports a study of secondary students’ perceptions of useful
and challenging characteristics. Data were collected using questionnaire and
interview methods. Specifically, the paper focuses on what web-based learning
looks like for secondary students, along with their perceptions of the benefits,
challenges, and helpful components in the web-based learning environments. As
this study utilized similar instruments to earlier studies that looked at the
perceptions of post-secondary students and participants of corporate web-based
training, comparisons will be made between the secondary students in this study
and those populations as well.

I had three people come by at three different times, so I got a chance to speak with ecah of them individually and address the topic to their specific interests. I did catch about the first ten minutes of the discussion I had with the second individual into my wife's iPod, so I may try to podcast that after I return to Athens and have access to my Mac-mini.

If you are interested in the above topic, the full proposal that I submitted back in January is available at:

And I have submitted a manuscript on the survey data portion already, so when that eventually sees the light of day, I'll let you know. Until then I'm back to the conference and willpost some more as it comes available.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Starting with the Yahoo news alert for virtual school.

Virtual Learning At Eastside High School
WCJB Sat, 30 Sep 2006 2:34 PM PDT

Administrators are trying everything they can to improve the grades of students at Eastside High School. Now, that includes a new high tech classroom.

Students turn to online classes
NorthJersey.com Sun, 01 Oct 2006 4:11 AM PDT

John Botto can take his psychology class at 3 a.m. on a Saturday. He's never met his classmates, who live as far away as South Africa. And if he wants to ask his teacher a question?

An alternative to high school
Fairfax Times Fri, 29 Sep 2006 9:18 PM PDT

Forget about bus rides to and from school, crowded hallways between classes, lugging books around in an overstuffed backpack and cafeteria lunches. Some Virginia high school students have found an alternative to getting an education inside a brick-and-mortar building: "The Online Academy."

Virtual school starts online newspaper
Lawrence Journal-World Tue, 03 Oct 2006 10:10 PM PDT

It’s not quite like the Lawrence Virtual School has an identity crisis. But the school and its 639 students don’t have a mascot. Nor do students eat together in a gym-a-cafetorium.

BellSouth Foundation Awards $40,000 Grant to Florida TaxWatch
SYS-CON Media Wed, 04 Oct 2006 1:29 PM PDT

The BellSouth Foundation announced today it has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Florida TaxWatch Research Institute to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Florida Virtual School. The six- month study will investigate the educational, operational and financial strengths and weaknesses of the Florida Virtual School.

Northwest Voice
Tehachapi News Wed, 04 Oct 2006 9:09 AM PDT

Is Virtual School Right For Your Children? Recruitment for Connections Academy (CA) is currently taking place for the 2006-07 school year. CA is an online 7-10 public school now serving families throughout Central California.

BellSouth Foundation Awards $40,000 Grant to Florida TaxWatch
FinanzNachrichten Wed, 04 Oct 2006 9:11 AM PDT

ATLANTA, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The BellSouth ( Nachrichten / Aktienkurs ) Foundation announced today it has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Florida TaxWatch Research Institute to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Florida Virtual School.

Chicago teachers union brings virtual school lawsuit
Daily Vidette Thu, 05 Oct 2006 6:34 PM PDT

CHICAGO (AP) - Lawyers for the Chicago Teachers Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to withdraw public money for the state's first online public school, claiming it doesn't qualify for the funds under Illinois law. The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court argues that the Chicago Virtual Charter School, which opened last month despite stiff union opposition, amounts to home-schooling and

Student body of 1
The Arizona Republic Fri, 06 Oct 2006 4:05 AM PDT

Marshall Dilworth has never stepped foot in a classroom at Peoria Sunrise Mountain High. He won't walk with the school's class of 2008 at graduation ceremonies.

Moving to the Yahoo news alert for cyber school.

Cyber Academy students, parents help flood victims in Hatch area
The Observer Fri, 29 Sep 2006 9:48 AM PDT

The devastation caused by flooding this summer in Hatch was frightening, but even more frightening - and with longer-lasting effects - is what happens to first-graders who struggle while learning how to read.

CYBER LEARN
Warren Times Observer Wed, 04 Oct 2006 9:00 PM PDT

10/5/2006 - The wire is going onto the poles. Visible work on the Warren County School District’s broadband Internet project moved down Market Street Wednesday as a crew from Masters Communications of Somerset was stringing cable to poles in town.

Next to the Google news alert for virtual school.

Students turn to online classes
NorthJersey.com - Hackensack,NJ,USA

... "With virtual school, classrooms have no boundaries.". Cyber class pupils say that online learning can sometimes require a lot of self-motivation. ...

Leavenworth Virtual School hosts first Friday Fun Day
Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth,KS,USA

It’s called a virtual school, but on Friday it had the appearance of a gym class at what one might call a traditional school. ...

Virtual school won't hold meetings
Billings Gazette - MT, USA

... school officials in Gillette talked with Wyoming Department of Education officials and agreed to limit enrollment in the Wyoming Virtual School to students in ...

Virtual school 'beats real thing'
BBC News - UK

Nothing unusual there, you may think, but this apparently normal English lesson is in fact taking place in a virtual classroom in a virtual school. ...

مدارس الواقع الافتراضيبي بي سي العربية - لندن,
UK

Last January, Shan Jayran and her husband John Davies, started a virtual school, called First College.They have 22 students. One ...

Virtual Learning At Eastside High School
WCJB - Gainesville,FL,USA

... While it might look like a regular classroom, by pairing up with the Florida Virtual School, Eastside High School has set up a computer lab for students to ...

Finally, the Google news alert for cyber school.

Goshen school kids take cyber 'field trips'
Times Herald-Record - Middletown,NY,USA

Goshen — Students in the Goshen School District have toured an aquarium in Seattle, witnessed a dog race in Alaska from the sled driver's seat and even had ...

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Updates from the AECT Blog Track

What's happening this month over at our blogging research presentation.

Just a reminder that the feed site for all of our blogs is available at:

My own contribution to the BlogTrack can be found at:

This month, the following entries on virtual schooling were posted:
Feel free to go over there and read and comment on any of these entries, regardless of when they were posted. Join in on any of the conversations.

Until next month...

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Statistics for September

First of all, let me say that I appreciate those people who contine to come to this blog, even when I haven't been updating it that much in this past month. I have been busy working on my dissertation, a post-doctoral fellowship application, and five presentation at AECT and three at the Virtual School Symposium.

I will be honest and say that October probably won't be much better, although after the AECT conference I will begin to post the entries from the AECT Blog Track to this blog - one per week, so that will ensure that there's at least one content-based post here each week for a good fourteen to sixteen weeks. Also, we have the Virtual School Symposium coming up at the beginning of November and I will try to post some items about that, plus I'm going to experiment with recording my own sessions (I have three - well, two and a half) and see if I can't upload those podcasts to here as well.

Anyway, as of this moment there are 7572 hits to this blog based upon the straight counter. It read 6950 at the end of August.

These hits came from 490 unique visitors: 428 first timers and 62 repeat offenders for an average of 16 visitors a day.

These visitors came from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, the United Arab Emirates, and India.

Popular pages included:

Until next month...

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