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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - Research on Digital Natives

This is second post in a row from the AECT BlogTrack dealing with digital natives.

Okay, so last week I asked the question Do Digital Natives Exist? I see that my colleague in this Blogtrack, Rick West, has taken up the challenge and tried to answer that question - see Digital Natives: Response to Michael.

Rick takes an interesting perspective on this one, as he indicates up front that he is on the fence and then poses a couple of questions. The one that he begins with is the one that I take issue with the most:

For me, I wonder if it is a chicken and the egg kind of situation. Are kids wired differently, therefore we should create a society to meet their new needs, or did we create a society that wired the kids differently?
The reason this bothers me, or that I take issue with it, is regardless of the answer to this question - what difference does it make? I mean really, what difference does it make if society should change because of the way kids are wired or if kids are wired because of the way society has changed?

In asking this question, Rick has clearly placed himself on one side of the fence. This question implies that regardless of which came first, children today have brains that are wired very differently from the majority of people in previous generations. ‘m not sure if that’s what he wanted to imply his position was, and I welcome him to clarify it in his next entry. However, it does beg the question that many have been asking about this notion of digital natives - and about gaming, as Rick also brought that up as well - where is the research?

Since my original posting, I notice that some others have taken up the call and have posted entries on this topic. A few that came to my attention include:

But in all of this, I still don’t see any research. It is fine and dandy to have people with lots of experience working with this population of individuals and to document their experiences over time, but I don’t see Prensky doing this. I don’t see Dede doing this. I don’t see Tapscott doing this. What I see is people who are working with adoloscents today, noticing something different about how they approach schoolor how they use technology - seeing that it is different from the previous generation - and trying to speculate why this might be.

And I suppose for people like Prensky or Tapscott, or even an Ian Jukes (see The Committed Sardine Blog), that’s okay. But for people like Chris Dede, Jim Gee, and others who would fall into the category of researchers, there needs to be more and I haven’t seen it yet.

So, is it just me? Am I missing what research is out there? Or, for that matter, are the likes of Chris Dede and Jim Gee (both of whom I have great respect for by the way) what Roger’s would classify as “early adopters” and the research (particularly publishing cycles) simply hasn’t caught up with them yet? You tell me…

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Opinions and Concerns

Darren, over at Teaching and Developing Online, has been posting a series entitled "School Opinions and Concerns" which is "a series of questions that are part of an on-going survey of the students at the Saskatoon Catholic Cyber School".

I ask my readers to remember that cyber school in the Canadian context does not equate with charter school. In Saskatchewan, like many Canadian provinces, there is a publicly funded non-denominational system and a publicly funded Catholic school system (for reasons dealing with constitutionality and entrance into Canada that I would be happy to talk about, but only if people are curious).

Anyway, here is the series:
I'm not sure if there will be more and, if so, how many more - but I'll deal with that when the time comes.

Sorry I didn't trackback Darren - but your system simply hasn't been accepting my trackbacks for a few months now.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alert for virtual school.

High school students use online courses to fill in the gaps
Alpena News Mon, 20 Nov 2006 7:28 PM PST

Rogers City high school student Tim Gray was relieved when he learned the progress he made in French last year wouldn’t be wasted.

Virtual School Teachers Exchange Innovative Practices, Knowledge and Strategies for Delivering Quality Online
PR Web via Yahoo! News Wed, 22 Nov 2006 4:00 AM PST

Orlando, FL (PRWeb) November 22, 2006 -- Today, Florida Virtual School launched a unique online forum through which educators exchanged strategies, knowledge and best practices for creating effective online learning programs for K-12 students.

Virtual School Teachers Exchange Innovative Practices, Knowledge and Strategies for Delivering Quality Online
PR Web Wed, 22 Nov 2006 0:28 AM PST

Virtual forum creates new opportunities for online educators to collaborate. (PRWeb Nov 22, 2006) Trackback URI: http://www.prweb.com/zingpr.php/SGFsZi1TaW5nLUxvdmUtSGFsZi1NYWduLVplcm8=

Board considers purchases
The Steubenville Herald-Star Wed, 22 Nov 2006 7:55 AM PST

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Governing School Board Tuesday considered more than $80,000 in purchases to upgrade the technology and software for the Virtual Learning Academy, an Internet-based learning alternative.

Virtual-school courses carry students far from Lancaster
The Columbus Dispatch Fri, 24 Nov 2006 4:39 AM PST

LANCASTER, Ohio — One of these students may be the next big screenwriter in Hollywood, another the next Stephen King writing horror novels. Those are among the careers that some students at Lancaster High School plan to pursue after they graduate from college.

Cyber High Schools Start Taking Off
CBS News Fri, 24 Nov 2006 12:17 PM PST

Just 10 years ago, schools were working hard to bring a computer to every classroom, but as The Early Show correspondent Debbye Turner discovered, for a growing number of students, the computer has actually become the classroom.

Moving next to the Yahoo! News Alert for cyber school.

First steps taken to improve school's funding
The Observer Mon, 20 Nov 2006 10:51 AM PST

Shortcomings within Rio Rancho Public Schools was more evident than ever Wednesday evening, when a town hall meeting was held at the Cyber Academy.

Proposed Freedom charter school spurs new round of debate
The Beaver County Times Mon, 20 Nov 2006 0:42 AM PST

Tim Daniels is pro-choice - that is, pro-school choice - and thinks every parent and student across the nation is worthy of nothing less.

Online School: Already Home for the Holidays
PR Web via Yahoo! News Mon, 20 Nov 2006 4:00 AM PST

Santa Rosa, CA (PRWeb) November 20, 2006 -- Like a scene from a science fiction movie, the exodus of backpack-wearing, duffel-bag-toting students is on the horizon.

Online School: Already Home for the Holidays
PR Web Mon, 20 Nov 2006 0:30 AM PST

For most people, the fast-paced journey into the holiday season is a mixture of joy and stress. The combination of less daylight, difficult weather and increased traffic creates additional challenges on the road. But for Directory of Schools online guide for students , there is one less place to travel to during this hectic time - the campus classroom. (PRWeb Nov 20, 2006) Trackback URL:

Cyber High Schools Start Taking Off
CBS News Fri, 24 Nov 2006 12:17 PM PST

Just 10 years ago, schools were working hard to bring a computer to every classroom, but as The Early Show correspondent Debbye Turner discovered, for a growing number of students, the computer has actually become the classroom.

District Web site revamped
The Arizona Republic Fri, 24 Nov 2006 4:13 PM PST

Higley educators not only teach about cyber learning, they live it. Travel through the Web pages of the district at Husd.org, and you'll find a wealth of new options, including news-type stories. And finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Proposed Freedom charter school spurs new round of debate
Beaver County Times - Beaver County,PA,USA

... charter schools such as these are self-managed, independently operated public schools that must be approved by local school districts, while cyber schools have ... [See all stories on this topic]

First steps taken to improve school's funding
Rio Rancho Observer - Rio Rancho,NM,USA

... VonAncken said is deteriorating in some places; that more after-school tutoring is needed; that funding needs to be in place for the Cyber Academy, which helps ...

Online School: Already Home for the Holidays
PR Web (press release) - Ferndale,WA,USA

... process which reviews accreditation or vocational industry standards relevant to each school. ... Career-minded individuals need make only one cyber-stop for all ...

"Best Exotic Pet Photo" Submissions
WMTW - Auburn,ME,USA

... Cyber school can be a great opportunity, or a waste of time, money and energy. Check out these cyber school sins to protect yourself. More. ...

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Friday, November 24, 2006

This Is Fun!

I found this from Dr. Four Eyes in his entry You like me! You really like me!. Apparently it came from this entry, which you can use to find out how you rank, courtesy of Musey Me.

C-List Blogger

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - Do Digital Natives Exist?

The second entry from May and the fifth in this series.

Okay, forget about the actual title used - generation Z, neomillennials, digital natives, the net generation, whatever - do they exist? By this question I am wondering if there is anything fundamentally different about children today that can’t be explained by simple generational issues (i.e. students in my generation were different than students in my parents generation). I know that some have gone as far as arguing that students today are wire differently than you and I.

This is a topic that I have given a lot of thought to - recent thought as I have only finished Marc Prensky’s new book Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning! It is also a topic that I have written a fair amount about on my other virtual schooling blog (see Students These Days and Schooling Not Matching Our Students for two of the more recent entries).

And I’m not the only one - there are lots of other people talking about this issue. Below are two that are really worth the read/view, as they are quite something.

The reason I spend so much time on this issue is that if students are actually different, wired in a unique way compared to you and I, virtual schooling could offer a unique way to address the individual learning needs of these students in how we design and delivery virtual school opportunities. However, if thes students are simply different from you and I only because they belong to a different generation, then how we design and delivery virtual schooling must change dramatically from the previous view.

This entry did generate some trackbacks from the original post:

Rick West » Blog Archive » Digital Natives: Response to Michael

[…] Michael brings up a question I have thought about a lot recently, mainly whether Marc Prensky’s belief is true that children today are actually wired radically differently in their heads from previous generations. Michael wonders whether this may not be just the common difference in generations, or whether it is something more. […]

Virtual Schooling » Blog Archive » Research on Digital Natives

[…] Virtual Schooling This blog is part of the AECT BlogTrack on “Emerging Trends in the Research on Online Learning Environments.” This particular blog focus is upon online learning in the K-12 environment, specifically virtual schooling. […]

Virtual Schooling » Blog Archive » What Are Virtual Schools Doing For Digital Natives?

[…] In any regard, this particular news item got me thinking back to previous posts that I have made on the topic of digital natives (see Do Digital Natives Exist? and Research on Digital Natives). In this news item, which actually describes a series of entries from a class blog for a public journalism class, he makes the statement: “how important it is that the new academics leverage new communication technologies to meet and challenge students in their new natural habitat: the online world.” [...]

So, what do you think?

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Starting with the Yahoo! News Alerts virtual school.

Cool at School: Virtual High School
KLAS Las Vegas Wed, 15 Nov 2006 5:18 AM PST

Technology has certainly changed the world we live in - at work, at home, and at school. In fact, some students here in the valley can now attend high school without ever leaving home. It's called Virtual

Virtual School takes step toward reality
Baldwin City Signal Wed, 15 Nov 2006 10:10 PM PST

Thanks to School Board member Scott Lauridsen, the Baldwin School District is one step closer to reaching a partnership with Insight Schools.

Virtual charter school denied by Board
Henry Herald Thu, 16 Nov 2006 5:37 PM PST

Officials with a nationally certified charter may seek to become Henry County’s first-ever charter school, and one that exists only in the virtual world.

New school ethos of virtual learning
Beverley Today Fri, 17 Nov 2006 2:32 AM PST

THE success of Driffield School's specialist status bid will see a rapid transformation away from the days of chalk dust and leaky fountain pens to high-tech computer assisted learning. (17/11/2006 10:18:04)

Virtual classrooms offer jump-start
Bluefield Daily Telegraph Fri, 17 Nov 2006 1:16 PM PST

PRINCETON — Some PikeView High School students are adding all their options and getting a jump start in their college careers through special correspondence courses.

Moving to the Yahoo! News Alerts cyber school.

Western Beaver, Midland school districts locked in lawsuit over tuition rates
The Beaver County Times Sat, 18 Nov 2006 0:18 AM PST

BEAVER - The Western Beaver School District has sued the Midland School District, claiming Midland owes $263,661 in tuition for students who attended Western Beaver during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years.

Moving on to the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Down in flames, but on his own terms
Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA

... decision to spend most of his time in Virginia while a Pittsburgh-area school district picked up the bill for his children's cyber-school education weakened ... [See all stories on this topic]

The Cyber School Option
WNEP-TV - Scranton,PA,USA

... Heather's mother feels the virtual school, or cyber school as it's also called, has also improved the parent-teacher relationship. ...

Finally, from the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Study: Virtual-school enrollment explodes
eSchool News - Bethesda,MD,USA

... student achievement, was the focus in Plano, Texas, as more than 500 educators from across the nation gathered for the annual Virtual School Symposium Nov. ...

Education notes: History education council elects Swihart
The Tennessean - Nashville,TN,USA

... The second publication, Cost Guidelines for State Virtual Schools, deals more concretely with the requirements associated with launching a virtual school. ...

Virtual trade school proposed
Kahnawake Eastern Door - Kahnawake,Quebec,Canada

... Nations of Quebec and Labrador in Quebec City, members of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake proposed the establishment of a First Nations Virtual Training Centre ...

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - Virtual Schooling Questions

The second entry from May and the fifth in this series.

One of my colleagues in this BlogTrack, Ernise Singleton - Higher Education, posted as one of her initial entries a list of questions that she was interested in or initially drew her to specific area of online learning research (see What is online teaching?). Thinking it a great idea, I thought that I would try and do the same…
  1. What does online learning look like for secondary students?
  2. What does online teaching look like? How is it different in an entirely synchronous environment? An entirely asynchronous environment? An entirely with both synchronous and asynchronous components?
  3. How do they navigate the challenges of learning in an environment that largely requires an adult learning skillset?
  4. Would they prefer to learn in a classroom with a teacher in a face to face environment, given the option?
  5. What do students think of the option or ability to learn in this environment?
  6. Do students in these web-based environments perform as well as their classroom counterparts?
  7. Can we design an online learning environment that is accessible to all secondary students?

While I have tried to address some of these in my own research studies to date (namely questions 1, 2, 4, and 7), there is still much that I have left to answer - the mark of a good researcher I guess… More questions than answers. In any regard, hopefully over the next few months I’ll get a chance to talk about some of the research projects that I have been involved with an my current thoughts on some of these questions.

So, what are you curious about when it comes to virtual schooling? Are your own list of questions similar? Am I missing the boat on any of these or asking questions that you think have already been answered? Let me know...

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alert virtual school.

Home, for some, is where the school is
Villages Daily Sun Tue, 07 Nov 2006 6:18 AM PST

BUSHNELL — Children taught at home miss out on so many experiences that children who attend public school get to experience every day. Their parents are thrilled about it.

Moving on to the Yahoo! News Alert for cyber school.

Santorum, Casey race close; voters explain why
Standard Speaker Sat, 04 Nov 2006 9:09 PM PST

Issues such as war in Iraq, taxes and immigration draw voters to either Rick Santorum or Bob Casey in the race for the U.S. Senate, but so do personal experiences.

General News
Clarion News Tue, 07 Nov 2006 5:08 AM PST

KNOX – The Keystone School Board Oct. 16 agreed to enter a $7,500 agreement with the Intermediate Unit 5 for services aimed at drawing students back to the district who have enrolled in cyber charter schools.

Casey for Senate
York Daily Record Mon, 06 Nov 2006 11:21 PM PST

Robert Casey is a better fit ideologically for Pennsylvania than Rick Santorum. ·Residency: Sen. Rick Santorum has been hammered because he lives most of the year in a Virginia house with his family - rather than a modest home near Pittsburgh he also owns.

The Cyber School Option
WNEP 16 Pennsylvania Wed, 08 Nov 2006 12:58 PM PST

Some students in our area are getting their education not in the traditional classroom but over the internet.

Western Pa. voters show local passion in ousting Santorum, Hartphillyburbs.com
Fri, 10 Nov 2006 1:11 PM PST

PITTSBURGH - The ballroom was decorated with red, white and blue balloons and posters of a smiling U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. But as his supporters waited anxiously for the results of his race with challenger Bob Casey on Tuesday night, the reality of what was to come started to settle in.

Something new this week, from eSchool News.

Study: Virtual-school enrollment explodes

Enrollment in K-12 online courses in the United states has exploded in the past year, increasing by as much as 50 percent in some states, according to a new report from the North American Council for ...

Similarly, from the ASCD SmartBrief.

Report: Virtual school enrollment soars

Thirty-eight states now regulate or sponsor virtual learning programs, while enrollment in online K-12 courses has soared over the past year, finds a report released by the North American Council for Online Learning at its annual Virtual School Symposium. The group also released the results of a separate survey that provided snapshots of virtual learning programs in 30 different countries. eSchool News (free registration) (11/7)

Minnesota district gets a boost from virtual schools

Launching two online schools for students statewide four years ago has turned out to be an enrollment and funding boon for Houston, Minn., a small district that until that time had been slowly but steadily losing students. Superintendent Kim Ross says the initiative -- which has attracted about 850 virtual students, each accompanied by about $5,000 in state aid -- has shielded the district from the fiscal pressures most districts face. Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul) (free registration) (11/9)

Next, the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Group behind Missouri’s virtual K-12 school launches website
News-Leader.com - Springfield,MO,USA

... start offering K-12 courses online, has launched a website and an outreach campaign to keep families informed of developments with Missouri’s virtual school. ...

And finally from the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Santorum, Casey race close; voters explain why
Standard Speaker - Hazleton,PA,USA

... The children were enrolled in a cyber school until a Democrat on the school board in Penn Hills objected because the school district paid the tuition at the ...

Cyber school support
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh,PA,USA

Cyber school is public school. My child happens ... I am well aware not everyone should home-school or cyber-school their children. I don't ...

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - Current Research Literature Base

This week's repost, the fourth in the series and the first entry from May 2006.

Okay, in the last entry I posted a list of links to entries that may or may not discuss the literature on virtual schooling that can be found at my other blog, Virtual High School Meanderings (see Non-Research Virtual School Entries). That entry got me thinking back to another enty that I made at Virtual High School Meanderings entitled Literature Base, where I described the difficulties I was having with a manuscript that I had submitted.

These difficulties were based upon the fact that I was making the claim that there was little “research” on virtual schooling. While I would agree with anyone that this is changing, evidence of this can be found with the funded NCREL studies (see A Synthesis of New Research on K–12 Online Learning) that were completed this past year, the fact of the matter is that at present there exists little more than evaluation studies of single virtual schools (usually isolated to a single year) or reports based upon the perceptions of those involved in the delivery of virtual schooling (primarily by those involved with the Virtual High School consortium). In the Literature Base entry, I used Google Scholar as away to verify this fact.

For a researcher like me, while presenting the great opportunity to be a trailblazer in this area, it also presents many challenges. The primary one is that when writing a literature review, there isn’t a lot of direct references that I can draw upon so I have to use a great deal of indirect citations. In fact, I spend a great deal of time trying to convince readers (and initially journal editors and conference proposal reviewers) that what we have learned about adults engaged in online learning environments isn’t automatically applicable, and in some cases is contradictory to the reality of adoloscent learners.

I’m interested how others, who have decided that their research agenda would not tread on ground that has already been walked on, dealt with this challenge?

So, here we are six months later - is my arguement still valid? Do we have a problem with the lackof research in the literature base for virtual schooling? What do you think?

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some More Notes from the VSS

Some notes from one of the sessions that I attended that actually spoke to some of the research aspects of virtual schooling.

Landscape of K-12 Online Learning: Past and Present
- Tom Clark and Cathy Cavanaugh

  • K-12 Online learning: education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily via the Internet (Watson, Winograd & Kalmon, 2004)
  • Growth of K-12 Online Learning
    • steady enrollment growth, from 40-50K in 2000-01 to 300K in 2002-03
    • considerable room for growth in KL-12 – 1.97 million OLL enrollments in higher education 2002-03
    • better tracking needed of enrollments, course, programs
  • K-12 Online Learning Growth Factors
    • a tradition of distance education/computer-based ed
    • emergence of the WWW
    • computer and Internet access/use in schools
    • government policies and funding
    • interest in OLL
  • Global Reach of K-12 Online Learning
    • primarily a North American phenomenon, but potential for expansion
    • most nations currently focused on building SchoolNet activities
  • Research in K-12 DL: How Much Can There Be?
    • Cavanaugh, 2001
    • Cavanaugh et al., 2004
    • NCREL studies

In the next day or two, I'll have a re-post from the AECT BlogTrack, and then I'll come back to the content of Opening the Virtual School Symposium.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Who Or What Are At-Risk Students?

Moving into a new area - at risk students. I'll be honest and say that this is a population of students that I haven't spent a lot of time focusing upon. As most of you know, my own focus has always been upon providing access to rural school students. But since I am getting close to finishing my Ph.D. and most of my study has been on virtual schooling, I figured that I should start to become a little more familiar with this population of students.

So I am sitting here listening to someone from the Cincinnati Virtual High School and his colleague from APEX Inc.. Something that caught my attention up front was his definition of an at-risk student.
Individuals who may not reach their ful potential because of limited access to quality schooling.
He defined quality schooling using the definition from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:
They engage all students with a rigorous curriculum, offer coursework that is relevant to their lives and aspirations, and foster strong relationships between students and adults.
This is an interesting way of looking at this issue, because traditionally people think of at-risk students as students who have problems in the traditional school environment. This view of at-risk students, places the burden of the problem on the upon schools for not providing an environment where students are challenged by a rigorous curriculum, that is personally relevant to them with individuals who they have personal connections to or relationships with.

Interesting... I know that I have some readers here who work with at-risk students. Is this view of at-risk students consistent with your experience? Or is this a unique way of looking at the issue?

Tags: VSS2006, , , ,

Opening the Virtual School Symposium

Okay, as I think I have mentioned last week I can in Plano for the Virtual School Symposium. The conference was opened up by Susan Patrick, who is the President of NACOL - the group sponsoring this conference. As part of her presentation, she outlined four key research findings:
  1. Online learning expands options and provides equal access
  2. Online learning is rapidly growing
  3. Online learning is effective (as well or better for online learners than classroom learners)
  4. Online learning improves teaching
I mention these here now, not because I want to address them now, but because I want to come back to them after the VSS is over - as I have problems with all four of these "key research findings" because I feel that the research doesn't say this at all.

Tags: VSS2006, , , ,

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alert for virtual school.

USD 382 explores possibility of charter school
The Pratt Tribune Wed, 01 Nov 2006 5:04 AM PST

If the Kansas State Department of Education approves a grant, some Pratt High School students will choose to attend classes in the 1939 building instead of at the new facility up the hill.

Innovative Online K-12 Homeschooling Academy Launched to Assist Southern Baptists in Public School Exit Strategy
PR Web Thu, 02 Nov 2006 0:37 AM PST

The Southern Baptist Academy opens it virtual door to Southern Baptists seeking an alternative to the public school system. (PRWeb Nov 2, 2006)

Moving on to the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Open enrollment spawns marketing for students
BusinessNorth.com - Duluth,MN,USA

... schools to help keep students in the system. It launched its virtual school last year in an effort to provide more student options. ...

MMSD Working On Virtual School
WISC - Madison,WI,USA

... For John to go to Appleton’s virtual school, the Leonards had to apply through open enrollment, which means John is considered an Appleton student, even ...

Virtual school program to help rural students
Victoria Times Colonist - Victoria,BC,Canada

Students from rural areas and those who want careers in professional sports such as hockey won't have to give up academics thanks to a new program launched ...

And finally from the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Indiana school director suggests cyber classes
Blairsville Dispatch - PA, USA

... School Director Bill Balint raised the issue after noting that his granddaughter is enrolled in a synchronous cyber school classroom with a number of other...

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - Social Presence in Virtual Schooling

This week's repost, the third entry and last one from April 2006.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was at AERA in San FranciscoI posted an entry entitled Teaching How To Teach Online at my other virtual school blog (i.e., Virtual High School Meanderings). While there were a number of things that interested me about this presentation, the one that stuck with me the most was the notion of social presence that was presented.

One of the presenters, Chad Harms (who I assume isworking on his dissertation in this area) presented a view of social presence that included 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

I was quiet interested in this for a variety of reasons. The first is that I believe that social presence plays a large role in the instruction that occurs with virtual school students and I also believe that it is a major factor in the amount of transactional distance experienced by a virtual school student.

Now I’ll confess that I haven’t done a thorough reading of the social presence literature. I have read some and feel that it could even form part of the theoretical foundation that I will develop for my own research on virtual schooling. In the reading that I have done, I have developed the following understanding of social presence theory…

Short, Williams and Christie (1976) define social presence as the “degree of salience of the other person in the interaction and the consequent salience of the interpersonal relationship…” (p. 65). This can be described as the level at which the learner feels that the other person has projected themselves as a real person, which has historically been measured using a rating on “scales such as unsocialable – socialable, insensitive – sensitive, cold – warm, and impersonal – personal” (p. 66). This theory was intended to be a measure of the medium of communication, however, recent studies (see Gunawardena and Zittle, 1997; Tu, 2000, 2001, 2002; Tu and McIsaac, 2002; Vrasidas and McIsaac, 1999) have found that the level of social presence can vary within a single medium. These new inquiries into the theory of social presence as it relates to computer-mediated communications have lead some to speculate that historical factors may be inadequate constructs. Tu and McIsaac (2002) propose that there are three dimensions of social presence: social context, online communication, and interactivity. They believe that such factors as “task orientation, privacy, topics, recipients/social relationships, and social processes” (p. 134) are all aspects of social context. These, along with the level of online communication and interactivity, dictate the level of social presence felt by the learner.

But like I said, I haven’t done a thorough reading. My good friend and colleague, Nathan Lowell has though, as his dissertation only two or three years ago was on the topic of transactional distance and his model included social presence as one of the potential variables of transactional distance. In fact, it was his dissertation (Lowell, 2004) that first got me into the literature on social presence. So, unless a great deal has been written about social presence in the past two years that has expanded the original concept to include these six variables or my good buddy really didn’t do a good job on his own lit review. As I highly doubt it is the latter, I can only wonder what it is that I have missed in the literature over the past two years that has created this discussion on an expanded view of social presence?

Selected Bibliography:

Gunawardena, C. N., & Zittle, F. J. (1997). Social presence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer-mediated conferencing environment. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8-26.

Lowell, N. O. (2004). An investigation of factors contributing to perceived transactional distance in an online setting. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.

Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. London, U.K.: John Wiley & Sons.

Tu, C. H. (2000). On-line learning migration: From social learning theory to social presence theory in a CMC environment. Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 23, 27-37.

Tu, C. H. (2001). How chinese perceive social presence: An examination of interaction in online learning environment. International Council for Education Media, 38(1), 45-60.

Tu, C. H. (2002). The measurement of social presence in an online learning environment. International Journal on E-Learning, 1(2), 34-45.

Tu, C. H., & McIsaac, M. (2002). The relationship of social presence and interaction in online classes. American Journal of Distance Education, 16(3), 131-150.

Vrasidas, C. & McIsaac, M. S. (1999). Factors influencing interaction in an online course. American Journal of Distance Education, 13(3), 22-36.

So what do you think?

Tags: , , AERA 2006, , , , ,

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Online PE at the VSS

As some of you may remember, the Virtual School Symposium is coming up next week (see http://www.nacol.org/events/vss/). In relation to this, and since I am attending (actually I have three presentations which I hope to podcast - if I can get the part of one I did at AECT put together and uploaded here) I received this in my inbox today.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Carone Fitness katie@caronefitness.com
Date: Nov 1, 2006 5:19 PM
Subject: Online PE: The Personal Fitness Suite
To: info@caronefitness.com

Looking for a standards-based online PE curriculum?

The Personal Fitness Suite™, a comprehensive online PE curriculum by Carone Fitness, is a fresh approach to secondary physical education. The Suite of semester long courses focuses on the needs and interests of the individual. Students tailor the frequency, intensity, time, and type of their workouts to fit their schedule and fitness level.

Features of the The Personal Fitness Suite™ include:

  • Standards-based curriculum
  • Courses tailored to students' needs & interests
  • Formative and summative assessments
  • 1-semester course = 0.5 Carnegie Unit
  • Platform/LMS interoperable
  • Latest in fitness technology
  • No Risk Trial!

The Personal Fitness Suite™ was developed using cutting edge technology and was designed with the today's student in mind. The ultimate goal of The Personal Fitness Suite™is to empower students as they develop a lifelong commitment to physical fitness.

Watch for us at the Virtual School Symposium in Dallas, TX!

Attend the Tuesday morning session by Katie Carone, founder and director of Carone Fitness, "Online PE: Not Just a Virtual Workout!"

Or set up an appointment with Katie to discuss how the The Personal Fitness Suite™ can work for you.

Contact Us Today!

Set up a meeting during the Virtual School Symposium or request further information!
ph: (801) 674-0966

I have to apologize and say that the original e-mail was much nice in terms of formatting, with all kinds of nice logos and this female student jogging around what looks to be a track.

Anyway, since I have talked about online PE in the past I figured that I would post this here to see what kind of reaction I got from the readership.

Tags: VSS2006, , , ,