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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cyber Charter Schools

Okay this will appear in the "Virtual Schooling in the News" feature at the end of the week, but I felt the need to draw attention to this a little more than simply including it there. This particular item came to me from my Yahoo! news alert for cber school. Unfortunately, because Yahoo! uses this search tool as if it is cyber+school and not "cyber school" I don't get much useful in that alert - in fact most of it is usually about cyber bullying. But this one was interesting.

Cyber charters: We are public schools
By SHARON WILLIAMS For The Evening Sun
Article Launched: 06/22/2007 08:49:28 AM EDT

A recent article in the Evening Sun outlined the campaign led by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) against public cyber charter schools in communities across the state. Unfortunately, it was full of many of the same old myths about cyber schools.

For years the PSBA has led the charge against public cyber schools, filing multiple lawsuits, supporting legislation that would severely cut funding, and spreading misinformation and distortions about cybers.

Cyber charter schools are as accountable as both the Hanover and the South Western School districts and more. They are public schools designated with the same local education agency status as school districts, thus are held to the same accountability standards, audits and state reporting requirements as every other school district. Public cybers are also required to undergo several audits unique to charter schools.

The state of Pennsylvania, through the Department of Education (PDE), provides full oversight and implements accountability measures for all cyber charter schools. PDE, as the authorizing agency for cyber charter schools, has the authority to conduct reviews and audits at any time. If a cyber charter school is not succeeding, their charter could be revoked by PDE and their school closed - a level of accountability school district's never face.

All of this information is available at the PDE or by request, as required by law. Those who
say they aren't sure what cybers are doing simply do not want to know. If this is indeed the case, local residents should expect more from their elected school board members.

A closer look at academic achievement shows public cyber charter schools are performing well and meeting almost all of the AYP academic performance targets.

Last year, Pennsylvania's eleven public cyber charter schools met 42 of 45 AYP academic performance targets. These numbers are especially strong when you consider that cyber charter schools often take high numbers of students who come in one or many grade levels behind because their local school failed to meet their education needs.

PSBA argues that cyber charter schools funding should be dramatically reduced.

They advocate passage of a bill (HB 446) that would arbitrarily cut cyber charter schools funding upwards of 60 percent, which would force these schools to close. PSBA understates the significant costs associated with operating full-time, full-service public cyber schools and ignores studies that refute their assertions. For instance, a 2006 independent report prepared by Augenblick, Palaich, & Associates on behalf of the Bell South Foundation titled, Costs and Funding of Virtual Schools, determined that the "the operating costs of online programs are about the same as the operating costs of a regular brick and mortar school," and concluded that actual costs for full-time cyber schools range from $7,200 to about $8,300 per student.

You will see pigs fly before you see the PSBA advocate for more burdensome regulations, red tape and massive funding cuts for public schools. Except, of course, if the public schools are charters.

As nice as it may sound to the PSBA members that it is "their money" going to cyber charter schools, the parents of kids enrolled in cyber charter schools, all hard-working taxpayers themselves, are quick to remind them that the funding is designated for their children's education only, and not for anything else.

Ultimately, the PSBA's arguments over money, power and control is a mask to what they really oppose: school choice for parents. Cyber charter schools continue to grow because parents and kids are choosing to enroll, and they want cyber charter schools available as a public school option. And that is the real rub for the PSBA.

Unlike traditional public schools, not a single child enrolled in cyber charter schools are assigned to attend because of where they live. Every family in one of our cyber charter schools is with us because they exercised their right to choose our school. When they enroll, the school districts no longer have any responsibility for the education or oversight of those students. They can concentrate on the kids in their schools and need not spend any time or energy worrying about our students. We'll take good care of them. If we don't, they are free to leave, go back to their locally assigned school and take their funding with them. That is the ultimate accountability.

If the PSBA wants to put the interests of our children first, then they will cease the relentless and misleading attacks on cyber charter schools, respect the education choices of our families, and end their campaign to strangle our schools out of existence.

Sharon Williams is currently the Head of School and Chief Administrative Officer of the Agora Cyber Charter School. For more information: http://www.agora.org/

What I found most interesting about this was that, at least in this particular publication the only one that stodd up for (or at least the only one that was published) was the administrator of a cyber charter school. But hey, I used to be involved in politics and someone writing on behalf of the candidate or elected official is nothing new, but at least in politics we would usually ask someone not so closely associated with the political individual involved to write those kind of pieces. If I were Sharon Williams, I would have had one of the parents of a student at my cyber school write this but that is neither here nor there.

Let's take a look at some of the things that Ms. Williams has to say... Yes, charter schools are public schools. However, they are not as independent or virtuous as she would have us believe. Charter schools are one of the ways that conservatives and right of center individuals have found to circumvent the traditional public education system. Since the 1980s and the panic created (or should I say manufactured) by the A Nation at Risk report, conservatives in the United States have been looking for ways to dismantle the traditional public education system - charter schools, including cyber charters, are one of their latest attempts.

There are also a reason why charter schools, and in particular cyber charter schools, have a reputation for not having to meet the same state requirements or not being as cost efficient as the traditional public schools. According to a 2000 American Teachers Federation document, "eighteen states either release charter schools from meeting state standards or allow charter school students to avoid taking state assessments. " I'm not sure how many of these eighteen still allow this, but if you don't have to meet the same requirements that a public school has to meet, they you aren't playing by the same set of rules and shouldn't be compared to one another (it is like comparing apples and oranges - a theme I'll use a lot in this post). I should note that if you did want to compare these apples and oranges, in a recent report commissioned by the Department of Education under the Bush administration (who are also in favour of dismantling the traditional public education system), public school students performed as well as charter school students and private school students (a real blow to their push for charter schools and their private school voucher initiative).

Also, in the past in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, where cyber charters have flourished, there have been major problems with the misreporting of data and the mismanagement of public funds. Is this still going on? At some level, probably - but I would say the same for the traditional public school system and even the private school system. Do these problems plague all cyber charter schools? Probably not, but over the past five to six years they have been prone to it and have made some interesting and frequent headlines because of those problems.

I should also point out Ms. Williams mentions the Costs and Funding of Virtual Schools and mentions that it claims that "the operating costs of online programs are about the same as the operating costs of a regular brick and mortar school." While the report does make this statement, it is important to note the context around this particular statement. In the preceding sentences the authors of the report indicate that this claim is basically applicable to year two plus - meaning after the first year of operation. The need to create or lease a learning or course management system, to create or lease actual course content, etc. - all of which are costs incurred in the first year are not factored into this claim. After this claim the authors indicate that the brick and mortar costs do not include the spending on capital costs, such as the construction and maintenance of the school building. So basically the report excludes the necessary infrastructure in both online and face to face settings, so you have to really wonder if they are actually comparing apples and apples.

But let's actually look at this report a little closer (beyond methodology, which I believe is fundamentally flawed). The following groups are listed as being ones consulted for this report:
  • Branson School Online
  • Colorado Legislative Staff
  • Colorado Online Learning
  • Colorado Virtual Academy
  • Connections Academy
  • Florida Virtual School
  • Georgia Virtual School
  • Idaho Association of School Administrators
  • Louisiana Virtual School
  • Minnesota Senate Staff
  • Monte Vista School District (Colorado)
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • North American Council for Online Learning
  • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
  • Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
  • Texas Education Agency
  • Texas Tech University
  • Vanourek Consulting Solutions
  • University of California College Prep Online
Interestingly I count eight virtual or cyber school organizations, three consultants or organizations that have been favourable to virual schooling in the past, three political or legislative bodies, one university, and only four non-political bodies that represent public educational organizations. Further the report indicates:

The first draft of this report was reviewed by a sub-group of participants, along with the Michigan Virtual High School. The review was coordinated by John Watson of Evergreen Consulting Associates, who then revised the report based on reviewers’ comments. The final report reflects the thoughts of the meeting participants, reviewers, and authors.
Let me begin by stating that I have a great deal of respect of John Watson, I've met him a couple of times at the annual Virtual School Symposium meetings. However, the report that states that virtual schooling is as cost effective as brick and mortar schooling talked to eleven online learning bodies, but only four brick and mortar bodies. It was reviewed by a virtual school and then revised by a consultant who has written a great deal about virtual schools - most of it in a positive fashion. I'm not saying that the report is wrong, but you have to start to ask yourself is it credible. Let's even look at their conclusions...

According to Ms. Williams, in the article she indicates that the authors of this report state that the "actual costs for full-time cyber schools range from $7,200 to about $8,300 per student." On page 13 it indicates that the cost of brick and mortar schools range from $5,851 to $9,801, with a national average of $7,727. So the cost is comparable between the national brick and mortar average and the cyber school range. But is it really? In this table on page 13, it only lists the cost per pupil from eight states (i.e., Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, New Hampshire, South Carolina,Texas and Vermont) and then provides the national average. From that list, I see seven states that allow for charter schools:
  • AZ - $5,851
  • CO - $6,941
  • FL - $6,213
  • ID - $6,011
  • NH - $7,935
  • SC - $7,017
  • TX - $6,771

That gives me an average of $6,677, which is well below the range for cyber schools. So compared to the national average it is comparable, but what if we only used states that allowed for cyber charter schools, would it still be comparable? In the table on page 13, Vermont - $9,806 is included. But Vermont isn't one of the forty states that allow for charter schools. And according to data from 2005-06 published by the National Charter School Research Project, eight of those forty states do not have any charter schools. So what happens to that national average if we only include the thirty-two states that do have charter schools or even the forty states that allow for them? Does it lower the national average below that $7,200 (i.e., the lower limit of the cyber school range)? I don't know because I don't have that information. But again, are we really comparing apples and apples or are we really comparing apples and oranges.

Also, a big issue for me is what do you do with Florida? Florida is the only state in the US where the state-wide virtual school is treated the same as any other school district, so they get funding based upon their full-time student enrollment the same as the brick and mortar schools do. So do you exclude Florida because the system is designed to be equal? Do you somehow control for it? Do you complete two sets of analyses, one with Florida and one without - explaining the unique situation in Florida? These are methodologies questions that the report doesn't answer.

Am I saying that this report is wrong or presenting a false picture? No. I simply can't answer that question because I don't have the information to answer all of the questions that I have raised here. Do I look skeptically at this report because of all of these questions that I have raised? Yes, most definitely.

Getting back to Ms. Williams and her defence of cyber charter schools, as I mentioned in a recent comment to Bill Tucker I am not in favour of charter schools or cyber charter school. I believe that they are a conservative policy designed to undermine the traditional public school system. Do cyber charter schools get a bad rap, as Ms. Williams indicates? Probably. Do they deserve that bad rap because of the large scale mismanagement of public funds and failure to report student performance data in a number of highly publicized cases in Pennsylvania and Ohio in particular? Yes.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blogging About Virtual Schooling

Well, here is what I have in my Bloglines account at the moment.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Another New Report

Not sure if I have posted this one last month or not, but just in case I didn't...

The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) has recently released a new report entitled A National Primer on K-12 Online Learning by John Watson (a consultant who has done a lot of work in virtual schooling).

I should also note that they have another webinar coming up in July. It is on July 11 from 2:00pm (EST) to 3:00pm about "Beyond honors students: Using media-rich online content with credit recovery students and in traditional classrooms". You should know that these webinars do have a fee to access at the session on the day the webinar is offered, however, you can access the archive of the event for free - which is why I have never seen one of these things live.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

As always, beginning with the Yahoo! News Alert for virtual school.

Okaloosa school officials question economics of online classes
Northwest Florida Daily News Mon, 18 Jun 2007 4:30 PM PDT

Though many school district officials tout Okaloosa County?s online school as ?the wave of the future,? others are worried about the program?s financial implications.

High school has more clicks than cliques
Ashland Daily Tidings Wed, 20 Jun 2007 1:20 PM PDT

As an alpha nerd, Harper Robinson naturally thinks her high school is kickwump ? a word her class coined. She wouldn't be prouder if it had the top-ranked football team on planet Earth, which it most decidedly doesn't and never will.

Roanoke County students get ahead with on-line summer school
WDBJ 7 Roanoke Wed, 20 Jun 2007 3:00 AM PDT

An extremely hot classroom is what most people picture when they think summer school. But some students in Roanoke County are taking classes from the beach.

Ohio Virtual Academy Awarded National Accreditation
SYS-CON Media Thu, 21 Jun 2007 9:02 AM PDT

The Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), the state's top-performing statewide eSchool, was recently awarded accreditation by the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA) and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI).

Emerson Park School selects hosted software to deliver virtual learning
PublicTechnology.net Fri, 22 Jun 2007 0:04 AM PDT

Extrasys has announced a deal with Emerson Park comprehensive secondary school in Romford, Essex, to provide the school?s pioneering virtual learning environment.

Virtual summer school helps students to learn and to succeed in academics
The Daily Record Fri, 22 Jun 2007 1:20 AM PDT

WOOSTER -- There are few second chances in the regular academic classroom. Whether or not that is an accurate statement, it is the opinion of Smithville High School sophomore Jerry Adams, for whom completing difficult coursework online is a more gratifying mode of operation.

Roanoke County students get ahead with on-line summer school
WDBJ 7 Roanoke Thu, 21 Jun 2007 2:52 PM PDT

An extremely hot classroom is what most people picture when they think summer school. But some students in Roanoke County are taking classes from the beach.

Virtual school spots filled
Daily Journal Sat, 23 Jun 2007 10:01 AM PDT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) ? Free spots in the state?s virtual school program are just about filled.

State fills free spots in new virtual school
KY3 Springfield Fri, 22 Jun 2007 3:27 PM PDT

Enrollment starts Monday for students who will pay tuition.

Online school slots filling fast
KRCG Jefferson City Fri, 22 Jun 2007 1:39 PM PDT

State education officials extended the enrollment period at the end of May because they still had funding available.

The back-door side of cyber schools
The Evening Sun Fri, 22 Jun 2007 11:33 PM PDT

A guest column this week in The Evening Sun by the head of a cyber charter school operating in Pennsylvania is a reminder that there are always at least two sides to every story.

Moving to the Yahoo! News Alert for cyber school.

Schools support cyber reform
The Evening Sun Mon, 18 Jun 2007 3:33 AM PDT

Bermudian Springs and South Western are joining other school districts following the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's recommendation to back newly introduced legislation attempting to reform cyber-charter schools.

Grand jury focuses on Midland charter schools role in arts center
Centre Daily Times Mon, 18 Jun 2007 10:10 AM PDT

A state grand jury investigation into two Pennsylvania charter schools is focusing on the role a school board played in the construction of a performing arts center, according to witnesses who testified.

Schools support cyber reform
The Evening Sun Tue, 19 Jun 2007 4:33 AM PDT

Bermudian Springs and South Western are joining other school districts following the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's recommendation to back newly introduced legislation attempting to reform cyber-charter schools.

Cyber education now offered to students
Sun Star Tue, 19 Jun 2007 9:37 AM PDT

EDUCATION in the country is going high-tech.

UPDATE: Auditor General Jack Wagner Calls for Changes in Funding of Charter Schools After Audits Show Overpayments
U.S. Newswire via Yahoo! News Tue, 19 Jun 2007 2:12 PM PDT

Auditor General Jack Wagner today called on Gov. Rendell, the General Assembly and the Department of Education to work together to standardize the funding system for Pennsylvania's 119 charter schools, including 11 cyber charter schools, to make it fairer for taxpayers and the commonwealth.

Gettin' pricey
The Beaver County Times Tue, 19 Jun 2007 6:39 PM PDT

HARRISBURG - The state auditor general has called for the governor and Legislature to limit charter school funding in the wake of audits that revealed public school districts overpaid three charter schools more than $1.3 million.

PA Cyber opening Harrisburg office
The Beaver County Times Wed, 20 Jun 2007 7:10 PM PDT

MIDLAND - The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School will open a satellite office in Harrisburg, according to school officials.

PA Cyber's budget reflects expected growth
The Beaver County Times Wed, 20 Jun 2007 6:54 PM PDT

MIDLAND - The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School board unanimously approved a $66.96 million budget Wednesday for the 2007-08 school year, projecting an enrollment increase of 1,000 students.


Cyber Ed project to boost education, says DepEd
INQ7.net Fri, 22 Jun 2007 0:11 AM PDT


MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Education is set to implement the Cyber Education Project (Cyber Ed) that aims to provide satellite-based educational services to public elementary and high schools, Secretary Jesli Lapus has said.

The back-door side of cyber schools
The Evening Sun Fri, 22 Jun 2007 11:33 PM PDT

A guest column this week in The Evening Sun by the head of a cyber charter school operating in Pennsylvania is a reminder that there are always at least two sides to every story.

Next the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Report Touts Virtual Schooling's Ability to Enhance Educational Reform
Online Degrees - USA

Nonprofit group indicates virtual schooling could serve as a model for public school reform. There has been little doubt about the growing popularity of ... [See all stories on this topic]

Okaloosa school officials question economics of online classes
The Northwest Florida Daily News - Fort Walton Beach,FL,USA

For the past four years, the Okaloosa County School District has been funding Okaloosa Online, a virtual school which offers all classes required for ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual world of opportunities awaits language students online
The Japan Times - Japan

But happily for Chris Flesuras, in 3-D virtual world Second Life little is impossible. Flo Federal, the alter ego of Kyoto high school English teacher Chris ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual school puts paints, pianos online
Columbia Missourian - Columbia,MO,USA

Through its online curricula, the virtual school is intended to provide opportunities for students who need or want more than their school districts or home ... [See all stories on this topic]

Teachers not yet a reality for e-school
Columbia Missourian - Columbia,MO,USA

"I have to admit I wish we were further ahead, but with a new program we have a crunch time," Curt Fuchs, virtual school director, said. ...

North Carolina Opens First Virtual School
KSDK - St. Louis,MO,USA

It's not just students excited about the virtual school. So far, 800 teachers across North Carolina have signed up to teach courses. ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual School Still Seeking Teachers
KOMU-TV - Colombia,MO,USA

COLUMBIA (AP) - Two months before the start of classes, Missouri's new online school has yet to hire any teachers. The Missouri Virtual Instruction Program ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual campus could aid in emergency
eSchool News - Bethesda,MD,USA

Merrill Johnson, an associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts who showed off the school's virtual campus earlier this month, outfitted his avatar with a ... [See all stories on this topic]

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Friday, June 22, 2007

E-Learning Project From Back Home

Just wanted to point out a big e-learning project from my own home province - The Killick Project. This is a project housed at Memorial University of Newfoundland that is funded by the federal Government through the the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) Program of the the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

If you look at the individual projects, there are a number that involve the virtual school in Newfoundland and Labrador, including:
  • Effectiveness of New Learning Technologies in Providing Education to Rural and Isolated Communities
  • Innovative and Effective Practives in Online Learning
  • Participation of High School Students in the Isolated Aboriginal Communities of Coastal Labrador in Web-delivered Learning
  • The Impact of CDLI Course Participation on Student Transition into Post-secondary Education and/or the Workforce
I mention this project at this time because there is a recent addition to YouTube that this project has contributed. While I have only watched the first few second, this video is of Dr. Elizabeth Murphy (who is leading the "Innovative and Effective Practices in Online Learning" individual project") talking about learner-centered e-teaching. You can view that video by clicking here.


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Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Report on Virtual Schools

I found this via Derek's Blog, which not having followed the link in the eSchool News item I posted last week it may very well be the same report, but he posted a link to a virtual school report in his entry entitled "Virtual Schooling and School Reform".

And this information would have been more useful to post yesterday, before the event actually happened, but apparently they hosted a live online chat with the report's author (i.e., Bill Tucker) yesterday afternoon, along with Liz Pape who is the CEO of Virtual High School and Barbara Stein, the Co-ordinator of the NEA's Guide to Teaching Online Courses. However, the information about the event and the transcript of the chat can be found here.

Another resource that Education Sector has on virtual schools that I was able to find was an article called Virtual Schools, Real Innovation, which one of their people published in the New York Times last year.

Now I've had a chance to superficially skim the report that is linked in there, but not really to actually read it. Having said that I wanted to provide some additional information about those involved. The report itself was produced by Education Sector. They claim to be "an independent education policy think tank devoted to developing innovative solutions to the nation’s most pressing educational problems." They also state that they "are nonprofit and nonpartisan, both a dependable source of sound thinking on policy and an honest broker of evidence in key education debates throughout the United States."

However, it should be noted that this independent and nonpartisan group has been a strong supporter of choice in public education, charter schools, and a number of other "right" or conservative thinkers when it comes to education.

Just thought I'd throw that out there for people to consider as they read through this report, so that they can keep this specific perspective in mind when reading the context of this report.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning as always, with the Yahoo! Alerts for virtual school.


North Carolina's Virtual Public School Open For Classes
WNCT Greenville Mon, 11 Jun 2007 10:18 AM PDT

It's a wave of the future. The state's virtual public school opened for session this morning. More than 41-hundred high school and middle school students are taking online classes this summer.

N.C. students can take classes online
News 14 Carolina Mon, 11 Jun 2007 4:10 AM PDT

RALEIGH -- North Carolina will make education history as the state's first virtual public school goes online. Beginning Monday, students will be able to take classes over the Internet, but there are some stipulations.

Florida Virtual Academy exceeds FCAT state average scores
Hernando Today Tue, 12 Jun 2007 1:40 AM PDT

JACKSONVILLE ? The Florida Virtual Academy (FLVA), one of Florida?s two full-time K-8 online public school programs, exceeded the stage average in Florida?s Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores this year.

"Virtual School"
News Channel 12 New Bern Tue, 12 Jun 2007 2:37 PM PDT

Thousands of students can now take courses without leaving the comfort of their homes. The North Carolina "virtual" public school went online Monday, and it promises to change the way kids learn.

Public school board offers e-courses in 2008
myKawartha.com Thu, 14 Jun 2007 6:42 AM PDT

Virtual classrooms are coming to the local public school board. Students in the local public school board will have the chance to participate in web-based courses starting February 2008.

Ball State active in Indiana charter school development
Ball State Daily News Wed, 13 Jun 2007 11:39 PM PDT

Ball State University approved the opening of two charter schools and closed another, while two university-sponsored virtual charter schools seek alternative options after being denied funding by the Indiana General Assembly.

Bladen County Schools? budget calls for a ?virtual high school?
Bladen Journal Fri, 15 Jun 2007 6:27 AM PDT

Despite the reality of a tight budget year, Dr. Kenneth Dinkins told the Bladen County School Board Monday he still wants to implement a ?virtual high school? program for Bladen County students. This will allow students access to online classes that may not be available locally.

Irish lit, Mandarin to be offered via 'Virtual High School'
Harvard Hillside Fri, 15 Jun 2007 5:56 AM PDT

HARVARD -- A handful of students at The Bromfield School are planning to study Irish literature, Mandarin and advanced-placement (AP) history next year, thanks to the district's enrollment with Virtual High School.

Teachers not yet a reality for e-school
Columbian Missourian Thu, 14 Jun 2007 10:18 PM PDT

The Missouri Virtual Instruction Program is close to reaching its goal of enrolling 2,500 to 3,000 students. The new program, which will take children out of the traditional classroom and send them online to learn, starts in August.

Middle, high school students take online classes this summer
Salisbury Post Fri, 15 Jun 2007 10:26 PM PDT

RALEIGH ? While many students are out of school, the N.C. Virtual Public School is open for summer session. According to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, 4,135 high school and middle school students are enrolled and taking high school level online classes this summer for the first time.

Online school has state scrambling for teachers
The Springfield News-Leader Sat, 16 Jun 2007 1:01 AM PDT

Columbia -- Two months before the start of classes, the state's new online school has yet to hire any teachers.

Two charter schools get contract extensions
The Appleton Post-Crescent Sat, 16 Jun 2007 2:24 AM PDT

APPLETON The Appleton Board of Education this week renewed the school districts contracts with the Tesla Engineering Charter School and Wisconsin Connections Academy.

A high school with more clicks than cliques
Los Angeles Times Sun, 17 Jun 2007 0:25 AM PDT

A Stanford University program offers gifted students an online education. They log on to class from all over the world. As an alpha nerd, Harper Robertson naturally thinks her high school is kickwump ? a word her class coined. She wouldn't be prouder if it had the top-ranked football team on planet Earth, which it most decidedly doesn't and never will.

Virtual school puts paints, pianos online
Columbian Missourian Sun, 17 Jun 2007 10:03 PM PDT

This fall, there may be a few less paint-splattered fingers, smiley-faced suns and lollipop trees.

Moving to the Yahoo! News Alert for cyber school.

Cyber school founder giving up some other school posts
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fri, 15 Jun 2007 10:20 AM PDT

Read this article ]

Founder of cyber charter school in Beaver County quits posts
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Fri, 15 Jun 2007 9:17 PM PDT

The founder of Pennsylvania's largest cyber charter school is giving up two key positions of an educational conglomerate based in Midland.

Schools support cyber reform
The Evening Sun Sat, 16 Jun 2007 9:48 AM PDT

Bermudian Springs and South Western are joining other school districts following the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's recommendation to back newly introduced legislation attempting to reform cyber-charter schools.

Beaver's Trombetta giving up another school post
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fri, 15 Jun 2007 9:05 PM PDT

Read this article ]

Next the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Florida Virtual Academy exceeds FCAT state average scores
Hernando Today - Brooksville,FL,USA

By CARLY BLUSTEIN Hernando Today correspondent JACKSONVILLE -- The Florida Virtual Academy (FLVA), one of Florida's two full-time K-8 online public school ... [See all stories on this topic]

States Taking Action on Virtual Schools
Education Week News - Bethesda,MD,USA

Afterward, some virtual school advocates said they worried that the state might seek to overregulate virtual learning and discourage its expansion. ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual record for Monroe school
Monroe Times - Monroe,WI,USA

For the Monroe virtual school principal, today's graduation ceremony in Wisconsin Dells is certainly reason to celebrate: the class of 2007 is the largest ... [See all stories on this topic]

NC students can take classes online
News 14 Carolina - Raleigh,NC,USA

The virtual school offers a wide range of courses, including accelerated classes as well as credit recovery courses, which are offered to students who ... [See all stories on this topic]

Finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

State cyber school debate unites school boards, teachers union
Washington Observer Reporter - Washington,PA,USA

That makes cyber school administrators uneasy. Pennsylvania has 11 cyber schools that enroll 17000 students. "If we have to fight against their heavy ... [See all stories on this topic]

Cyber charter school costs continue to rise
Sewickley Herald - PA

Still, Clapper says neither he nor the district is "anti-cyber school," but is merely opposed to the funding ar-rangement made by state legislators. ... [See all stories on this topic]

On Cyber School Reform, The Devil Is In The Details
Evening Bulletin - Philadelphia,PA,USA

This is not surprising, since enrollment in Pennsylvania's eleven cyber charter schools is growing at an astounding rate: Cyber charter school enrollment ... [See all stories on this topic]

Union cries foul on cyber report card
The Age - Melbourne,Victoria,Australia

"He's utterly useless and really shouldn't be at the school," wrote one critic of a Melbourne teacher. "Students in his science class know the course better ... [See all stories on this topic]

Gerlach Lauds Cyber Charter School At Commencement
Evening Bulletin - Philadelphia,PA,USA

PALCS, a "cyber school" based in West Chester that educates children from K through 12 via computer, has become a refuge of learning for thousands of ... [See all stories on this topic]

Founder of cyber charter school in Beaver County quits posts
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh,PA,USA

The founder of Pennsylvania's largest cyber charter school is giving up two key positions of an educational conglomerate based in Midland. ... [See all stories on this topic]


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Friday, June 15, 2007

Virtual Schools = Reform Schools

From the eSchool News Today - http://www.eschoolnews.com/today/esntoday061507.htm
Jun. 15, 2007 See Issue Online

Report sees online schools as models for reform

The growing popularity and success of online learning is an important but "largely unnoticed" trend that reform-minded educators and policy makers could use to much greater advantage as they seek to improve public education in general, says a new report from Education Sector, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C.

Titled "Laboratories of Reform: Virtual High Schools and Inn... Full Story

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Innovate - June/July Author Webcast Schedule

In addition to the information about the latest issue of Innovate, another one which contained some articles on this next generation of students, here is some information about their up-coming webcasts that correspond to those articles.

A message from James L. Morrison (jlm@nova.edu ).

Innovate-Live webcasts offer an opportunity to synchronously interact with authors of selected articles in the June/July 2007 issue of Innovate, an open access e-journal published by the Fischler School of Education and Social Services at Nova Southeastern University. These webcasts are produced as a public service by our partner, ULiveandLearn. Registration is free, but advanced registration is mandatory. Also, space is limited, so register NOW. To register, go to the following site:


All times are Eastern time (sync with New York). You may use the world clock at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html to coordinate the time with your time zone.

The schedule for the June/July Innovate-Live webcasts is provided below.

June 14, 2007

12:00 PM
Authors: Bill Gibbs and Erik Larson
Using Video Conferencing in Lecture Classes
http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=388

1:00 PM
Authors: Kathleen Roney and MaryAnn Davies
Coaching and Mentoring on the Internet Highway
http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=294

2:00 PM
Authors: Sarah Lohnes and Charles Kinzer
Questioning Assumptions About Students' Expectations for Technology in College Classrooms
http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=431

July 11, 2007

12:00 PM
Author: Howard Wach
Changing Needs, Changing Models: Instructional Technology Training at Bronx Community College
http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=424

1:00 PM
Author: Donald Philip
The Knowledge Building Paradigm: A Model of Learning for Net Generation Students
http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=368

3:00 PM
Authors: Edward Gehringer, Luke Ehresman, Susan G. Conger, and Prasad Wagle
Reusable Learning Objects Through Peer Review: The Expertiza Approach
http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=365

To Be Announced (Check the Innovate-Live Portal)

Authors: Helen Sword and Michele Leggott
Backwards into the Future: Seven Principles for Educating the Ne(x)t Generation
http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=389

If you cannot attend a webcast, note that it will be archived within the features section of the article itself shortly after the event and in the Innovate-Live portal.

Many thanks.

Jim
----
James L. Morrison
Editor-in-Chief, Innovate
http://www.innovateonline.info
Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership
UNC-Chapel Hill
http://horizon.unc.edu

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Note that the spacing in Blogger has been sketchy lately, so apologies if this continues in this and future entries.

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alerts virual school.

Florida Virtual Academy Posts High Scores on 2007 State Tests
U.S. Newswire via Yahoo! News Wed, 06 Jun 2007 12:01 PM PDT

Students at the Florida Virtual Academy (FLVA) -- one of the state's two full-time K-8 online public school programs -- posted strong scores on the 2007 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCAT).

Virtual schools try new concepts
Post-Tribune Wed, 06 Jun 2007 2:16 AM PDT

Financially snubbed by the Indiana General Assembly, the state's first two virtual charter schools have reinvented themselves and are dashing to package plans for a fall debut.

Florida Virtual Academy Posts High Scores on 2007 State Tests
SYS-CON Media Wed, 06 Jun 2007 4:03 PM PDT

posted strong scores on the 2007 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCAT).

Experience high school -- virtually
Contra Costa Times Fri, 08 Jun 2007 6:59 AM PDT

ON MY first day at school, I suffered through every teenagers' worst nightmare -- I went to class in my underwear. It was an embarrassing predicament and an unfortunate blow to my social life.

Eduserv to fund research into eLearning in new Virtual Worlds
PublicTechnology.net Fri, 08 Jun 2007 0:04 AM PDT

Eduserv the not-for-profit IT services group, has announced that its Foundation has awarded grants totalling ?333,000 to fund four research projects, each of which involve investigations into the use of virtual worlds in learning and education.

Pasco teen graduates from virtual high school (w/slideshow)
Tri-City Herald Sun, 10 Jun 2007 9:09 AM PDT

Amanda Conn's high school has dream catchers and a set of moose antlers bagged by her dad.

Online education
KRCG Jefferson City Sat, 09 Jun 2007 6:32 PM PDT

Nearly 1,700 students have registered for Missouri's Virtual Instruction Program this fall.

Next the Yahoo! News Alerts cyber school.

Bonnell takes cyber school fight to state
The East Liverpool Review Wed, 06 Jun 2007 9:14 PM PDT

COLUMBUS ? East Liverpool City School board member Gary Bonnell testified before the Ohio Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee Wednesday regarding cyber schools and what he terms ?educational prostitution.?

Cyber charter school costs continue to rise
Sewickley Herald Thu, 07 Jun 2007 11:55 AM PDT

Quaker Valley School Dis-trict will top the $1 million mark next year for money paid to cyber charter schools since the 2001-02 school year, according to figures announced by Dr. Joseph Clapper, superintendent.

Moving on to the Google News Alert for virtual school.

District to offer more online courses
Boca Raton News - Boca Raton,FL,USA

The board purchased the $120000 Florida Virtual School franchise that will provide more on-line courses. The license is effective for the 2007-2008 school ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual school slow to catch on
Columbia Daily Tribune - Columbia,MO,USA

He thinks some parents might be unaware of the virtual school program or still have questions about how it's going to work. Others might be waiting until ... [See all stories on this topic]

First Round Enrollment in Virtual School Closes
Missourinet.com - Jefferson City,MO,USA

About 17-hundred students are the first enrollees in Missouri's virtual school program. Education department officials are pleased they have not had to turn ... [See all stories on this topic]

SAU 16 launches virtual charter school
Portsmouth Herald News - Portsmouth,NH,USA

The curriculum comes from Florida Virtual School based on national curriculum standards. The perpetual licenses the school plans to obtain for the ... [See all stories on this topic]

K12 Inc. to Provide Curriculum and School Services to the ...
Web Services Journal - Montvale,NJ,USA

"Monroe has a long-standing tradition of being a 'broker' of educational services, and we believe the Washington Virtual Academies high school will be an ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual school can be helpful
Clarksville Leaf Chronicle - Clarksville,TN,USA

The local school system's Virtual High School shows how creative programs can assist in students in obtaining that all-important high school diploma. ... [See all stories on this topic]

Missouri Virtual School Enrollment Extended
MyFox Kansas City - Kansas City,MO,USA

The enrollment period for Missouri's virtual school originally ran from May seventh through the 29th. But the state received fewer applications than ... [See all stories on this topic]

State reopens enrollment for virtual school's fall classes
Southeast Missourian - Cape Girardeau,MO,USA

Twenty Cape Girardeau County students have enrolled in online classes that will be offered by the state's new virtual school starting this fall. ... [See all stories on this topic]

District 544's Virtual School met expections in its first year of ...
Fergus Falls Daily Journal - Fergus Falls,MN,USA

The Virtual School of Minnesota is an online school for students in grades two through 12. At peak times during the 2006-2007 school year, the Fergus Falls ... [See all stories on this topic]

Virtual school's fees are legal
FayObserver.com - Fayetteville NC,USA

Q: Why will nonpublic school students have to pay to take classes through the North Carolina Virtual Public School, which is funded by taxpayers? ... [See all stories on this topic]

Finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Cyber charter schools need to justify funding
Allentown Morning Call - Allentown,PA,USA

The bill's method of accomplishing this, limiting the per-student funding each cyber school can receive, based on its enrollment, may not be the right way ... [See all stories on this topic]

Cyber schools excellent choice
Republican & Herald - Pottsville,PA,USA

We all pay taxes to our school districts; with our money, not the school districts', and if we choose to teach our child at home through a cyber school, ... [See all stories on this topic]

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Publication - Principles of Effective Web-based Content for Secondary School Students: Teacher and Developer Perceptions

Just wanted to alert you to a recent publication of mine in the Journal of Distance Education dealing with the CDLI (Newfoundland and Labrador's virtual school).


Home > Vol 21, No 3 (2007) > Barbour

Principles of Effective Web-based Content for Secondary School Students: Teacher and Developer Perceptions
Michael K. Barbour

Abstract - In this article, I describe findings from a study of the perceptions of course developers and electronic teachers on the principles of effective asynchronous web-based content design for secondary school students. Through interviews, participants’ perceptions of various web-based components and instructional strategies, and the effectiveness of both based upon the experiences of the participants were investigated in a virtual high school context for the purpose of generating a list of guidelines that future course developers might utilize.


Full Text: PDF, HTML

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Friday, June 08, 2007

CIDER Session Archive

The session on the CDLI (Newfoundland's virtual high school) that was hosted by CIDER has been archived at:




Using Third Generation Activity Theory and Contradictions to Analyse Qualitative Data
Facilitator: Dr. Elizabeth Murphy
Institution: Memorial University
Date and time: Jun 08, 2007 11:00 AM

In this session Elizabeth Murphy and Maria Rodriguez Manzanares will illustrate how they relied on Third Generation Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and the concept of contradictions to make sense of data from a case study of e-teaching in virtual high-school classrooms in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They will provide a brief overview of Third Generation Activity Theory, outline their approach and protocol, provide actual coded examples and discuss the limitations and value of this approach in particular and Activity Theory in general to distance education research. Elizabeth and Maria will be assisted in this presentation by doctoral students Brian Kerr and Charlene Dodd, who will discuss the coding of contradictions.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Invitation to CIDER session - 8 June 2007

Wow! Twice in one day... This came in my inbox and the focus is upon the virtual school in Newfoundland and Labrador.

***Messages are posted in the language received.***

Dear CADE/AMTEC Member,

We would like to invite you to the next presentation in our series of free CIDER sessions. The session features a presentation and discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Murphy and Maria Rodriguez-Manzanares. Dr. Murphy is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University. Maria Rodriquez-Manzanares, also from the Faculty of Education at Memorial University, is a doctoral candidate.

Title: Using Third Generation Activity Theory and Contradictions to Analyse Qualitative Data

In this CIDER session, Elizabeth Murphy and Maria Rodriguez-Manzanares will illustrate how they relied on Third Generation Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and the concept of contradictions to make sense of data from a case study of e-teaching in virtual high-school classrooms in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Elizabeth and Maria will be assisted in this presentation by doctoral students Brian Kerr and Charlene Dodd, who will discuss the coding of contradictions. For more details on this presentation go to: http://cider.athabascau.ca/CIDERSessions/

When: Friday, June 8th, 2007, 11am – 12pm Mountain Standard Time

Where: Online via Elluminate at: https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?password=M.8B71B60F2931D029AC3837DC06B70D

Pre-Configuration
Please make sure your Mac or PC is equipped with a microphone and speakers, so that we can use the Voice over IP functionality built into the web conferencing software.

Please note that it is extremely important that you get your system set up prior to the start of the event. Please don't wait until the day of the session to do this. Information on installing the necessary software and configuring your PC is available at http://www.elluminate.com/support/ in the “First Time Users” section.The session will be recorded and available for future playback from http://cider.athabascau.ca/CIDERSessions/

**************************
CIDER is a Community Partner of Elluminate, who proudly sponsors our web conferencing needs. To sign up for a free, no obligation three-user version of Elluminate, please visit http://www.getvroom.com

Elluminate is currently conducting a higher education survey about eLearning. Your participation in this survey would be greatly appreciated. The survey can be accessed at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=265373346008

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Blogging About Virtual Schools

Time once again to clean out the Bloglines...


I imagine this will be the pattern for most of the summer, given the few trips that I have to take (i.e., AP European History exam reading and IVHS summer meetings) and then my impending move to Windsor, Ontario - if it doesn't show up in my e-mail inbox or doesn't appear in my Bloglines, it probably won't be posted. Hopefully mid-August will see a return to a regular schedule with some more content.

That's all I have for now...



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