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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alert for virtual school.

Virtual charter school to start in Indy
The Indianapolis Star Mon, 22 Jan 2007 6:38 AM PST

A group of business, civic and education leaders today announced plans for Indiana's first online public K-12 school.

Virtual school expansion receives subcommittee approval
The Times and Democrat Wed, 24 Jan 2007 11:48 AM PST

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Students statewide could earn class credit through online courses under a bill approved in a House subcommittee Tuesday. The proposal, heading to the House Education and Public Works Committee, would expand the state Education Department's virtual school pilot program.

Online public high school opens its virtual doors
Fond du Lac Reporter Wed, 24 Jan 2007 9:14 AM PST

Wisconsins high school students and their parents have a new choice in online learning to consider during Wisconsins open enrollment period, Feb. 5 to 23. Insight School of Wisconsin is a free, full-time, diploma-granting online public high school available statewide for the 2007-08 school year. Interested parents and students are invited to attend an information session 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. ...

Virtual School Expansion Receives Subcommittee Approval
WLTX-TV Columbia Tue, 23 Jan 2007 5:35 PM PST

A House subcommittee approved a bill Tuesday that would allow students statewide to earn class credit through online courses.

Mercer eyes charter high school
Ironwood Daily Globe Wed, 24 Jan 2007 3:02 PM PST

MERCER, Wis. -- A virtual school with tough penalties for truancy and small rural schools that offer Internet foreign language classes provide a glimpse of the possibilities for cyber-education.

Virtual classroom gives students lesson on the future of education
Gloucester Daily Times Fri, 26 Jan 2007 9:15 AM PST

MANCHESTER - In the last few days, high school junior James Pates has spent a significant amount of time on the Internet. But don't hold that against him. It comes with the territory when participating in a "virtual classroom."

Moving to the Yahoo! News Alert for cyber school.

Bald Eagle school district planning cyber charter school
WFMJ Youngstown Mon, 22 Jan 2007 7:18 AM PST

WINGATE, PA. The Bald Eagle Area School District in Centre County is planning to open a cyber charter school in the fall.

Bald Eagle to open cyber charter school
Centre Daily Times Mon, 22 Jan 2007 0:17 AM PST

WINGATE -- With 31 of its students attending cyber schools across the state, the Bald Eagle Area School District is planning to open one of its own this fall.

No comparison
The Beaver County Times Fri, 26 Jan 2007 0:16 AM PST

In Sunday's article on charter schools, including cyber charter schools, Nick Trombetta said his cyber-school educates 6,000 students on a $50 million budget while West Allegheny School District has 3,300 students on a comparable budget.

Bellevue University Recognized as National 'Learning Leader'
PR Web via Yahoo! News Fri, 26 Jan 2007 4:00 AM PST

Bellevue, NE (PRWeb) January 26, 2007 -- Bellevue University, a leader in distance learning and long recognized for its Cyber-Active® Learning format for online education, has won the Bersin and Associates 2006 Learning Leaders Program for Technology Excellence award.

Western Pa. charter school center of convoluted legal battle
Springfield News-Sun Sat, 27 Jan 2007 10:20 AM PST

BEAVER, Pa. — Twenty-one years ago, the small, economically ailing borough of Midland was forced to close its high school, which ultimately led to students being educated across the border in Ohio.

On to the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Virtual classes virtually the same
Baltimore Sun - Baltimore,MD,USA

The student-teacher exchange might seem typical, but at the Baltimore County school system's Home and Hospital Center in Bare Hills, the encounters occur by ...

No fence too high
St. Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg,FL,USA

Then the Morinas discovered Blake High School's accelerated learning magnet program, an offshoot of Florida Virtual School. Students take their courses ...

Mesa Online Academy - Going Where No Public School has Gone Before
Emediawire (press release) - Ferndale,WA,USA

Using the Global Student Network's popular Virtual Curriculum, Mesa Online Academy offers individual or full year courses for students in grades 2-12. ...

Robot lets girl who has to stay home join classroom action
Boston Globe - Boston,MA,USA

It adds a new dimension to the virtual school experience." A much smaller design is in the works to support the moveable-class schedule of typical ...

Virtual charter school to start in Indy
Indianapolis Star - Indianapolis,IN,USA

The Indiana Virtual Charter School would deliver daily lessons via the Internet, using a state-approved curriculum. Pending the outcome of a regulatory ...

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - Student Perceptions of Online Learning

This entry from the AECT BlogTrack is the fifth entry from the month of June, the fifth in the series where I described the research work that I have done to date in virtual schooling, and the thirteenth overall in the re-posts from this series.

This was the first study that I conducted after joining the online learning research group that Dr. Hill had established here at the University of Georgia - yes, this is the same group that is sponsoring this BlogTrack. The actual research projet was one that had been originally conducted by Liyan and Ernise Singleton (Higher Education) with a group of online students in one of our Master’s programs. This was first replicated by Frankie Jones (Corporate Settings) in a corporate setting in the United States and then by Myung Hwa Koh (Trends & Issues) in a corporate setting in South Korea. So my version of the students was the fourth different population.

Over the years we have talked about writing up something that compares the findings of the four different studies (I believe that Frankie and Myung Hwa did this with their two corporate versions), however, I suppose before that can happen I will need to actually present or publish the findings from my study - which I hope to have written into manuscript form and submitted somewhere over the summer.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of students who have completed courses from the CDLI on helpful and challenging components of web-based learning, specifically to explore web-based learning from the secondary student’s perspective to inform the creation of strategies that can be implemented to assist web-based learning designers. A mixed methods approach, using both quantitative (survey) and qualitative (interview) data collection methods, was adopted. Eighteen different schools, representing all four school districts in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, agreed to participate in this study. During the 2004-05 school year, a total of thirty-eight participants completed the survey and eight participated in a follow-up interview.

While a complete analysis of the data is still being conducted, some of the preliminary results from the survey portion indicate that overall students are fairly pleased with their web-based learning experiences. When asked “overall, I am satisfied with taking web-based courses,” 87% of the students indicated they were. This is a particularly positive result, given that two thirds of the students who completed the survey had only taken one or two web-based courses. As a possible explanation for that satisfaction, one of the themes from the interviews was the ability of students to access courses that had previously been unavailable in their school. This increased access was seen by the students as the greatest benefit of the CDLI. In addition to this, students also mentioned factors such as being able to interact with students from different parts of the province, the ability to increase their technology skills, and the opportunity to become more independent in their learning as other benefits.

The two initial challenges identified in the survey data were a lack of time and technical problems. Half of the students who completed the survey indicated that there was generally a lack of time to get everything that was required in their web-based course completed by the assigned deadlines. To re-enforce the first of these, one of the themes from the interviews was that students were simply unable to complete all of the seat/practice work that is assigned to them and often submit their graded work after the assigned deadline. Also, more that two third of students expressed that technical problems was the main challenge faced in their web-based learning. This was also a theme from the interviews, technical problems were common when it comes to the hardware, and particularly the software used for synchronous classes. In addition, many students expressed difficulties with being able to complete work at home due to the lack of necessary software or the fact that much of the asynchronous content is designed to be used at higher bandwidths than is typically available in these rural areas.

Finally, when asked which factors are important for success in a web-based course students selected well-organized content, motivation, and time management as the most important factors. Other factors that were seen as important were clear objectives, exercises, quizzes, technology comfort level, although not to the extent as the first three. Interestingly, students indicated that feedback was the least important factors in their success in this web-based learning environment.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo News Alert for virtual school.

Open houses at FVTC set for online high school
Appleton Post-Crescent Sat, 13 Jan 2007 2:29 AM PST

GRAND CHUTE IQ Academies at Wisconsin, an online high school based in Waukesha, will hold open houses at Fox Valley Technical College, 1825 N. Bluemound Drive.

Online courses gaining popularity with students
NBC 2 Fort Myers Fri, 12 Jan 2007 3:38 PM PST

Taking online classes is gaining popularity with high school students in Southwest Florida. Virtual classes are giving students the chance to take any core curriculum course online.

Is Online Learning For You?
Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch Sat, 13 Jan 2007 5:27 AM PST

More and more college students are taking classes online, according to a new survey by the College Board and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. About 3.2 million people took at least one college course online during the fall of 2005 term, compared to 2.3 million in the fall of 2004.

Flexibility of online classes is appealing
Watertown Daily Times Tue, 16 Jan 2007 10:49 AM PST

Geoff Hall, 16, of Watertown, doesn't hurry in the morning to get dressed, eat breakfast and get to school on time. There's no need for him to pack a lunch for the school day or grab his backpack.

Meeting set to learn about charter school
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wed, 17 Jan 2007 9:59 AM PST

Parents and students can attend an informational meeting today to learn about the Connected Academy, a Fulton County charter high school set to open in August. During the meeting, Connected Academy's principal, Susan Caster, will address the key factors that differentiate the school from its traditional high school counterparts, as well as the application process. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at ...

Performing Arts Cyber School Ordered To Close
KDKA Pittsburgh Tue, 16 Jan 2007 4:45 PM PST

State education officials are taking action against a locally-based charter school accused of improperly spending taxpayer money.

U of I changes plans for online school
Crane's Chicago Business Thu, 18 Jan 2007 9:49 AM PST

(AP) -- University of Illinois President B. Joseph White has removed some of the most controversial aspects of his plan for Global Campus, the school's sprawling online initiative, officials said. White's initial proposal called for Global Campus to be a separate for-profit entity of ...

Moving on to the Yahoo News Alert for cyber school.

Board Of Education Rules On Pa. Cyber School
KDKA Pittsburgh Mon, 15 Jan 2007 9:00 PM PST

For the past year, KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan has been investigating possible financial abuses at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Beaver County. The reports' findings are now the focus of a grand jury and KDKA has learned the cyber empire has just been dealt another crushing blow.

General News
Clarion News Thu, 18 Jan 2007 5:25 AM PST

KNOX – Keystone School District has launched its own cyber school services in an effort to bring students interested in Internet-based classes back to the district.

Next, the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Albin group applies to start charter school
Billings Gazette - Billings,MT,USA

The school would offer a combination of online and onsite education, much like Fort Washakie Charter High School's Wyoming E-Academy of Virtual Education. ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual school delayed
The Reporter - Fond du Lac,WI,USAP

Plans for an online virtual school have been put on hold by the Fond\ndu Lac School District, and $10000 in grant money has been returned....

Virtual school helps 16-year-old insomniac graduate
he Reporter - Fond du Lac,WI,USA

Parents can sign up their students for virtual education for the start of the next school year during Wisconsin's open enrollment period, which runs Feb. ...

Finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Private Online School, The Cambridge Academy, is Antidote to the ...
Emediawire (press release) - Ferndale,WA,USA

The Cambridge Academy is a private cyber school that enables families to enroll in courses through the internet. The Cambridge Academy's advanced multimedia ...

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Re-Post From The AECT BlogTrack - Teachers and Designers Perceptions of Web-Based Design

This entry from the AECT BlogTrack is the fourth entry from the month of June, the fourth in the series where I described the research work that I have done to date in virtual schooling, and the twelvth overall in the re-posts from this series.

This was the first study that I conducted as a doctoral student at the University of Georgia. It started as a project that I did for my qualitative research courses, that I would expand upon later - see one of the future entries on Student Perceptions of Web-Based Design.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the characteristics perceived to be important for an effectively designed web-based course for secondary school students by those who have designed courses for this population of students. The data collection process involved 30-60 minute telephone interviews. These interviews were conducted with different six course developers, e-teachers and individuals who have held both roles for the CDLI, after twenty-eight of the thirty-two CDLI course developers and teachers were contacted. All interviews occurred from June to August of 2004.

From an analysis of the interview transcript, I identified seven thematic categories which I refined into guidelines for developers. When designing web-based content for secondary school students, course developers should:
  1. prior to beginning development of any of the web-based material, plan out the course with ideas for the individual lessons and specific items that they would like to include;
  2. keep the navigation simple and to a minimum, but don’t present the material the same way in every lesson;
  3. provide a summary of the content from the required readings or the synchronous lesson and include examples that are personalized to the students’ own context;
  4. ensure students are given clear instructions and model expectations of the style and level that will be required for student work;
  5. refrain from using too much text and consider the use of visuals to replace or supplement text when applicable;
  6. only use multimedia that will enhances the content and not simply because it is available; and
  7. develop their content for the average or below average student.
One of the interesting developments from this study was that the guidelines listed above had little similarity to online learning guidelines for instructional designers found in the literature, which further underscored the differences between the ways adults learn and how adolescents learn. (For more information, see Barbour, 2005a; Barbour, 2005b.)

Selected Bibliography

Barbour, M. (2005a). Perceptions of effective web-based design for secondary school students: A narrative analysis of previously collected data. The Morning Watch, 32(3-4). Retrieved November 04, 2005 from http://www.mun.ca/educ/faculty/mwatch/win05/Barbour.htm

Barbour, M. (2005b). The design of web-based courses for secondary students. Journal of Distance Learning, 9(1), 27-36.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Some Entries About Today's Students

The exact nature of today's student has been a common theme on this blog in the past. Here are a couple of entries that discuss this very issue...

So I ask you the same question I always ask, is this idea that today's student is so inherently different that they need to be taught in different (in most instances technology-infused ways) because they learn so differently from previous generations?

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Blogging About Virtual Schools

Okay, time to clean out my Bloglines account again for saved entries dealing with virtual schooling.

That's it for now... But hey, at least it's some new and regular content again.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alerts virtual school.

Elluminate Live!(R) Academic Edition(TM) Engages Florida Virtual School Students in Real-Time, Interactive Learning ...
Market Wire via Yahoo! Finance Mon, 08 Jan 2007 9:05 AM PST

Elluminate, Inc., a leading provider of live eLearning and Web collaboration solutions for the real-time organization, announced today an agreement to provide teachers at Florida Virtual School, an established leader in developing and providing virtual K-12 education solutions for students worldwide, unlimited access to its Elluminate Live!® Academic Edition(TM) license. This expansion of ...

Elluminate Live!(R) Academic Edition(TM) Engages Florida Virtual School Students in Real-Time, Interactive Learning ...
SYS-CON Media Mon, 08 Jan 2007 1:21 PM PST

Elluminate, Inc., a leading provider oflive eLearning and Web collaboration solutions for the real-timeorganization, announced today an agreement to provide teachers at FloridaVirtual School (FLVS), an established leader in developing and providingvirtual K-12 education solutions for students worldwide, unlimited accessto its Elluminate Live!® Academic Edition(TM) license. This expansion ...

Board signs dotted line for virtual school
Baldwin City Signal Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:05 PM PST

High school students in Kansas will have one more option for virtual schools come next fall. A unanimous vote by the Baldwin Board of Education approved the contract with Insight Schools Monday night. The board voted 6-0 to accept the contract.

Virtual school delayed
Fond du Lac Reporter Fri, 12 Jan 2007 2:30 AM PST

Plans for an online virtual school have been put on hold by the Fond du Lac School District, and $10,000 in grant money has been returned.

Next the Yahoo! News Alerts cyber school.

Cyberschool probe continues
The Beaver County Times Tue, 09 Jan 2007 6:12 PM PST

PITTSBURGH - The state Attorney General's office continued its investigation of the Midland-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and related entities this week by calling witnesses for a fourth straight month to appear before a grand jury impaneled in Pittsburgh.

Private Online School, The Cambridge Academy, is Antidote to the Failing Cyber Charter Schools
PR Web Fri, 12 Jan 2007 0:35 AM PST

The Cambridge Academy offers a true, affordable solution to families unsatisfied with the public school system. (PRWeb Jan 12, 2007) Post Comment:Trackback URL: http://www.prweb.com/chachingpr.php/SW5zZS1TcXVhLUhhbGYtTG92ZS1NYWduLVplcm8=

Private Online School, The Cambridge Academy, is Antidote to the Failing Cyber Charter Schools
PR Web via Yahoo! News Fri, 12 Jan 2007 4:00 AM PST

(PRWeb) January 12, 2007 -- The Cambridge Academy Inc.

Moving to the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Second Life Shoots for Better Life from Open Source
IT Business Edge - Louisville,KY,USA

Touting nearly 2 million users at the end of last year, the virtual environment allows users to create an online persona that can shop and attend school and ...See all stories on this topic

Real learning in virtual world
Elmira Star-Gazette - Elmira,NY,USA

Cody McCarty, 11, is a sixth-grader at Broadway Middle School who uses the virtual world program. He said that because the programs are much like video ...

Community Voices at the National Center for Primary Care at ...
PR Newswire (press release) - New York,NY,USA

The dramatic rise in HIV/AIDS rates among African American women is a virtual epidemic that is unnoticed and not responded to by those jails and prisons in ...

You can go to virtual school
Newszap Florida - FL,USA

There’sa new way to GO to school these days, but actually students don’t have to GO to attend. Collier County Virtual School, a franchise of the State of ...

New Dorp HS students gain national final in business competition
Staten Island Advance - Staten Island,NY,USA

The only thing virtual about the three Staten Island high school companies that participated in the citywide National Business Plan Competition in Manhattan ...

UMC College in the High School students get research tips
Crookston Daily Times - Crookston,MN,USA

Director of Library Services Owen Wilson and Computer Help Desk Manager Peg Sherven showed the students how to create an account, set up a Virtual Private ...

School of video games
The Express Times - Easton,PA,USA

Years ago, parents feared their children's minds would be poisoned and rotted for life; sucked into the virtual world of flower-throwing plumbers, ...

Elluminate Live!(R) Academic Edition(TM) Engages Florida Virtual ...
Market Wire (press release) - USA

... announced today an agreement to provide teachers at Florida Virtual School (FLVS), an established leader in developing and providing virtual K-12 ...

Virtual research ethics
Guardian Unlimited - UK

The flood of virtual world research has become a torrent with academic institutions finally turned on to some of the interesting social phenomena which ...

Finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Cyber charter school suit alleges contract violation
York Dispatch - York,PA,USA

BEAVER -- The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School has filed suit against its former business management company, alleging that the company violated its ...

Districts seek to withhold cyber funding
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh,PA,USA

Mark Zabierek, the lobbyist who helped craft the cyber school funding formula, said recently he is scheduled to testify on Tuesday before the grand jury...

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Repost From The AECT BlogTrack - Usage of Instant Messaging as a Means of Community Building in e-Learning Environments

Okay, sorry I have been out of touch for a bit, with the holidays and the beginning of the semester and all. I'll try and get some new content up over the coming week...

This entry from the AECT BlogTrack is the third entry from the month of June, the third in the series where I described the research work that I have done to date in virtual schooling, and the eleventh overall in the re-posts from this series.

Okay, I know that I’m a little behind on these, and it is appropriate that this is the one where the break occurred - as the research study described in this entry is the only one that I haven’t done a lot with (basically I have only presented this at a single conference, with no publications from it).

This particular research study began during the 2001-02 school year while I was the CDLI’s Web-Based Initiatives Facilitator in my own school district. It came about because one of the main aspects of the CDLI web-based delivery model during that first year was the initial lack of synchronous communication. While synchronous instruction began on a regular basis in February, it was primarily instructor-driven. And while there were no official student-driven synchronous tools, in some cases the students took it upon themselves to create synchronous networks using different instant messaging tools. The first evidence of this occurred in the asynchronous discussion forum within WebCT. In early October there were six messages posted by the students discussing how to contact each other using ICQ and another four messages concerning MSN Messenger. These threads continued until the middle to late October. This was following in late November by a discussion on the use of the Groove software. This thread contained twelve different postings and continued until early December. It was from this student-initiated discussion that the idea for this study came about.
The purpose of this particular study was to investigate the use of Instant Messaging (IM) usage among students as a means of community building in an e-Learning environment. In addition to the students in this single course during the CDLI’s first year of operation, a second sample of students enrolled in a different course during the second year of operation were also included in an effort to address the following research questions:

  1. What are the implications of IM usage for e-Teachers as online learning continues to grow?
  2. Which IM tools will students use to further their learning online?
  3. Will the use of IM tools increase students’ chances of success via e-Learning?
The general trends that were found from the student responses to the survey that they completed, indicated that IM was a tool that students felt comfortable in utilizing, given the amount of use during their personal time. It was also found that students personally felt that IM assisted both in their learning and their sense of “knowing” their virtual classmates. Finally, based on these trends we recommended that e-teachers should give consideration to adopting a more formal role for IM in their e-Learning environments.
As it was probably best described by own of the students in a survey response:

“I think that if instant messaging was more widely used for online courses, it may allow students to have more contact with their teachers, and for them to get more help with their assignments, or the work that they are doing in the chapter at any given time. vClass is good, but there are only certain times that it can be used. Also, vClass may not fit on most home computers (and is harder to use on dial-up). With IM, it could be accessed at any time, and would be a lot easier.”

(For more information, see Cooze & Barbour, 2003.)

Selected Bibliography

Cooze, M., Barbour, M. (2003). Usage of instant messaging as a means of community building in eLearning environments. Paper presented at the annual Canadian Association for Distance Education conference, St. John’s, NL.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alerts virtual school.

Missouri readies virtual school for classes in August
Southeast Missourian Fri, 29 Dec 2006 10:05 PM PST

No desks. No cafeteria. No recess. No principal. But the state of Missouri's new virtual school will have online classes for elementary and high school students starting in August. No online courses...

Online offerings offer model to bring back homeschoolers
Timberjay Fri, 05 Jan 2007 7:22 AM PST

A Minnesota school district has found a unique way to bring its classes to home-schooled students. The Houston County School District offers its full curriculum through two online schools — a virtual program for students in grades K-8 and another geared for students in grades 9-12.

Next the Google News Alert for virtual school.

School district explores option of paying fees by credit card
Basehor Sentinel - Bonner Springs,KS,USA

... "I probably have about 50 percent of parents in the Virtual School ask for credit or debit," said Brenda DeGroot, director of the Virtual School. ...

Group seeks cash to make Vision 2015 reality for Del. schools
The News Journal - Wilmington,DE,USA

... Her budget requests include some programs in line with the plan, such as $500,000 for Delaware Virtual School to provide students with an online learning option ...

See the future: Collier County Virtual School
Naples Daily News - Naples,FL,USA

Registration is available for students wanting to try the Collier County Virtual School program, which allows students to complete courses from a home computer ...

Missouri readies virtual school for classes in August
Southeast Missourian - Cape Girardeau,MO,USA

But the state of Missouri's new virtual school will have online classes for elementary and high school students starting in August. ...

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