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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...


Anonymous Tess205 said...

Hi, I found your blog to be especially interesting and relevant because I'm going into secondary education. I'm in an online class about how to effectively use computers in education, and right now we are on the subject of distance learning. It seems like a lot of students in my class aren't really open to the idea of fully online learning for high schoolers because they don't feel that they would be mature enough to handle it and get their work done. Perhaps I'm generalizing them, but I feel completely different about it.

I don't know very much about technology, but as a teacher who must work with it to run an effective classroom of the future, I'm very open to the idea of distance learning. I would like to teach English, and I can think of a variety of ways to at least implement components of distance learning, even if my school or classroom does not go totally virtual.

I love the proposals you have posted, but I haven't gone through yet and actually read the full documents, only the abstracts that you posted. Knowing all of the ways that distance learning can help my students to learn more effectively is something that I'm very interested in. I want my students to take an active interest in what it is I teach them, and finding new approaches to do that is what I'm looking for.

I feel that through distance learning, every student has the opportunity for a voice.

I know that when I was in high school, I did all of my assigned work, but when class discussion came around, I very rarely raised my hand and gave input...the same goes in many of my college classes. It's not that I'm not actively thinking, I'm just not providing my own ideas to the discussion. I like to be able to formulate what I want to say before I say it, but by the time I have decided what that is, the discussion has movied on and my input is irrelevant. By implementing online learning, students can spend whatever time they need saying what they want to say, and can go very in-depth with it. I'm looking forward to reading what else your blog has to say...I hope more people begin to realize anyone can get a strong education through distance learning...they are no longer limited by a classroom, only by their own ambition and drive.

2:22 PM  
Blogger MKB said...


I'll be honest with you and say that the majority of virtual schooling opportunities in the United States are designed in such as way that only those students who are mature enough to handle it can succeed. My own research interests lie in changing this, so I focus upon trying to find ways to design virtual school opportunities and tecah in virtual environments so that success in this method of schooling is attainable by all students.

My interest in this is rooted in my concern over rural education. As the rural population continues to shrink, virtual school opportunities will be the only way that many rural school students can access the same curricular choice as their urban and suburban counterparts. Creating opportunities for only a small percentage of these students is elitist and, in my opinion, unacceptable. So that's where I can from on the issue.

Glad that you found us and hopefully you'll find some things of interest here.


8:48 AM  

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