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Friday, November 30, 2007

Series - Conference Quotes

I don't think this is really a full fledge series, like the last two that Darrin over at Teaching and Developing Online posted.

The first was...
The second was...
And now, Conference Quotes... Again, probably not a real series, but well worth enjoying here all the same.
The funny thing is that I'm not even sure which conference this was... Care to spill there Darrin?

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Register Today for Upcoming NACOL Webinar

NACOL Monthly Webinar SeriesNACOL

December 12, 2007
2:00-3:00 PM (Eastern)

"Learning in the 21st Century: Release of a new report of online learning based upon Speak Up 2006 data findings"

Speaker: Julie Evans, CEO Project Tomorrow

In an effort to offer the K-12 community greater insight into the current trends in online learning, Project Tomorrow and Blackboard have teamed to deliver a new report titled "Learning in 21st Century: A National Report of Online Learning."

This report, released on October 17th, examines the views of online learning provided by more than 250,000 students, teachers and parents (across more than 3,000 schools nationwide) in response to the 2006 Project Tomorrow-NetDay Speak Up online surveys.

"Learning in the 21st Century" also contains interviews with administrators and teachers in six school districts, which use a range of innovative online learning models, providing additional insight into the integration of online learning into curricula and the benefits experienced by teachers and students.

A sampling of key findings in the report:

  • While 47% of students in grades 9-12 pursue online learning to secure courses not offered at school and 43% to work at their own pace, the top reason (42%) for students in grades 6-8 is to receive extra help

  • 77% of teachers believe technology makes a difference in learning and 28% of teachers want online courses to be offered as an alternative in their district

  • 42% of parents believe online classes are a good investment to improve student achievement

Register Now

Or copy this link: http://www.nacol.org/events/webinar/

Registration is open until 2 PM (ET) Tuesday, December 11, 2007.

To ensure proper delivery of our email messages to your inbox (not bulk or junk folders),
add info@nacol.org to your Address Book or Safe Sender List.



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Blogging About The Next Generation

Here are some things in my Bloglines that deal with this next generation of students
Here are also some items about this notion of "21st Century Skills" (if you want to see what I think of this, check out my post on VSS2007 - Virtual Schools and 21st Century Skills).
Until next time...

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blogging About Virtual Schooling

Some items from my Bloglines that deal with virtual or cyber schooling.
Until next time...

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Florida Tax Watch and the FLVS

This was a topic that came up on the last day of the Virtual School Symposium.
A Comprehensive Assessment of Florida Virtual School, by Florida TaxWatch (November 2007)
Well, since the release of this report someone posted the following press release that they found in one of the NACOL forums.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 5, 2007

CONTACT:
Kim MacQueen
Communications Director
850-222-5052, ext20

FloridaVirtual School Costs Taxpayers Less and Its Students Perform Better

TALLAHASSEE- Florida TaxWatch Research released a new report on the efficacy and efficiency of the FloridaVirtualSchooltoday. "A ComprehensiveAssessment of FloridaVirtualSchool" was undertaken by the Center for Educational Performance and Accountability (CEPA), a Florida TaxWatch Center of Excellence, in order to explore to what degree Florida Virtual School (FLVS) offers an efficient, taxpayer accountable alternative and supplemental system of education.

The study examined student demographics and achievement and cost-effectiveness, finding that during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years FLVS students consistently outperformed their counterparts in Florida's traditional middle and high schools on such measures as grades, Advanced Placement scores and FCAT scores. All FLVS teachers are certified, and their pay is tied to student performance, making FLVS the only true performance-based education system in the state. The study also found that FLVS is a bargain for Floridataxpayers. Largely because it has no expenses related to transportation or construction and maintenance of physical facilities, FLVS is able to offer computer-delivered instruction at a lower per-student cost than traditional schools.

"While there is always room for improvement in any organization, through this study, FLVS has proven itself to be a viable and innovative educational endeavor that works," said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "It has also shown that it has the capacity to meet the increasing challenge and demand for many more students, which canalso help offset some of the incredible costs of Florida's multibillion-dollar constitutional class size amendment."

The study also found that a significant portion of FloridaVirtualSchool students withdrew from their classes, and outlines a number of factors that may contribute to this high withdrawal rate.

The study was funded by a leading grant from the BellSouth Foundation withadditional funding and data support from UCompass. Florida TaxWatch CEPA Executive Director Betty Coxe served as the report¹s principal author with assistance from Senior Research Analyst Necadi Aydin, Ph.D. and several others.

# # #

Florida TaxWatch is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan research institute that over its 28 year history has become widely recognized as the watchdog of citizens' hard-earned tax dollars. Its mission is to provide the citizens of Floridaand public officials with high quality, independent research and education on government revenues, expenditures, taxation, public policies and programs and to increase the productivity and accountability of Florida Government. Its support comes from homeowners and retirees, small and large businesses, philanthropic foundations, and professional associations. On the web at www.FloridaTaxWatch.org.
Now, far be it from me to call into question someone's motives, but... Non-partisan, really?

Anyway, what are your thoughts?

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the eSchool News.

Reports reveal online learning's successes, needs
NACOL sheds light on virtual schooling's phenomenal growth ... and need for regulation
By Laura Devaney, Associate Editor, eSchool News
http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/n...24ae&d=top-news

No Yahoo News alert for virtual school, but next, the Yahoo News alert for cyber school.

PA Cyber School adds new financial officer
The Beaver County Times Tue, 20 Nov 2007 11:22 AM PST
The PA Cyber Charter School added a new position Monday when the school board hired Scott Antoline as its first director of finance and compliance officer at a salary of $90,000.


Moving to the Google News alert for virtual school.

AP virtual labs questioned
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription) - Milwaukee,WI,USA
The effects are being felt in Wisconsin at iQ Academies, the virtual high school operated by the Waukesha School District, and at Wisconsin Virtual School, ...
See all stories on this topic

Momentous day in life of a little Heir Island girl
Southern Star - Cork,Ireland
How long will it be before Anna is able to log on to her laptop computer and take all her lessons from a Virtual School without moving from her island home? ...
See all stories on this topic

Vivendi Games Mobile Launches New Surviving High School Game for ...
PR Newswire (press release) - New York,NY,USA
Facebook users will have the exclusive opportunity to become Surviving High School's virtual 'Homecoming King or Queen,' by inviting their friends to join ...
See all stories on this topic

Virtual education guides students via computers
Kansas City Star - MO,USA
The program, run by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, is designed for students who wish to take classes their school does not ...
See all stories on this topic

Dr. Herman DeVry - Forefather of Virtual Learning
Online Degrees - USA
The school known for its exemplary online programming offers 52000 students access to online or on-site degree options across the country and in Canada. ...
See all stories on this topic

Coker Creek School Needs More Room
Monroe County Advocate Democrat - Sweetwater,TN,USA
Instead, those students will use a credit recovery program or go to virtual school (take classes over the Internet.) The county's adult GED program will ...
See all stories on this topic

Virtual school still takes discipline, students say
The Commercial Dispatch - Columbus,MS,USA
But the rewards, participants in Mississippi Virtual Public School said, are worth the sacrifices. "It takes about four hours a day," said Kerri Courtney, ...
See all stories on this topic

Finally, the Google News alert for cyber school.

Cyber charter schools vie with districts for funding
The Tribune-Democrat - Johnstown,PA,USA
Reasons vary for why parents choose a cyber school education. Some cite bullying or dissatisfaction with the local school's environment. ...
See all stories on this topic

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

AECT Webinar - AECT in Second Life

This may be of interest to some...
AECT Webinar - 'AECT in Second Life: Prims, Plans, & Projects'


Date & Time: 11/29/07 5:00 pm (US/Eastern)
Duration: 90 minutes


Explore SecondLife with Dr. Ross Perkins Senor Project Associate at Virginia Tech. This one hour webinar will demonstrate and provide an opportunity to discuss how AECT members can get involved and learn about the educational potential of this new virtual environment. Dr. Perkins(Milosun Czervik in SecondLife) will guide you through the process for navigating this virtual world with all its promise for creating new learning opportunities for both teachers and students.

This is the first of four AECT Webinars planned this year, covering current issues in the profession. Register online at aect.org and watch for announcements regarding future AECT Webinar topics and dates through the spring of 2008.

Send your suggestions for “hot topics” for future Webinars to Phillip Harris at pharris@aect.org.

AECT members may login at aect.org to register.

Register now—join AECT in this new venture! See you on the island
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Monday, November 19, 2007

Two K-12 Virtual Learning Live Feeds

A couple of live feeds that deal with K-12 and virtual learning...
From Kevin Jarrett

Reposted from my blog:

http://www.storyofmysecondlife.com/?p=527

CNN ran the IReport I filed on the event, giving ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) free national exposure:

http://secondlife.blogs.cnn.com/2007/11/15...y-in-education/

It was a team effort, about a dozen people worked on the logistics, but it went off largely without a hitch. Great fun, and great promotion of distance learning!

-kj-
The second from the same author...
This event was last Wednesday night and was organized by MacArthur:

http://uscpublicdiplomacy.com/index.php/ev...ts_detail/2541/.

Here is the rebroadcast:

http://takeonedigital.blip.tv/file/488039/

If you have about an hour and 15 minutes, and can at least just listen to the audio, it will be well worth your while.

The implications of virtual worlds in education are all here, explained, explored. Really great.

-kj-
Some things to think about in here...

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Imagine That!

A little bit of humour for your Sunday morning...
The newest twist on distance learning
By Kristen A. Graham

http://www.philly.com/philly/education/200..._education.html
Posted on Tue, Nov. 6, 2007

PHILLY.COM

It all began with a soft pretzel.

A few months ago, Ken Hartman was reading the newspaper when a small blurb - an advertisement for "National Pretzel Day" - grabbed his attention.

Hartman, who is both academic director of Drexel e-Learning and a member of the Cherry Hill school board, was thunderstruck.

"If someone could celebrate Pretzel Day, why isn't there a day to celebrate the tremendous growth in education in online learning?" Hartman said.

Forget National Online Learning Day. Hartman, who's worked as a university professor and administrator for the past 25 years, conceived, coordinated, and got National Distance Learning Week on the map. The nonprofit United States Distance Learning Association even named him chairman of the celebration.

Beginning Monday, schools and universities around the country will mark the occasion with virtual open houses, awards and a series of free "webinars" - seminars available on the Web.

It's a chance to highlight a fast-growing part of the education sector.

These days, more than 2.5 million college students take online courses; more than 700,000 high school students take courses online, and "virtual" public schools exist in 40 states.

Hartman is awed by how quickly an idea he hatched a little more than six months ago has spread.

"It's caught on like wildfire," Hartman, an enthusiastic advocate, said of the celebration. "Colleges all over the country are participating, cyberschools, regular schools, business."

There will be webinars on the Holocaust that will bring in guest speakers from around the world. There will be sessions on integrating virtual education into K-12 classrooms and blending home schooling with virtual education.

Drexel is hosting a flurry of activities, including an awards ceremony - presumptive Mayor-Elect Michael Nutter is scheduled to attend the Tuesday event - to honor excellence in online education.

During his decade as educational media technology director at Egg Harbor Township School District, Michael Sweeder has watched online learning explode - and evolve.

Nine years ago, distance education came to Egg Harbor Township in the form of a single videoconferencing room equipped with $10,000 worth of gadgets. Now, each school in the district has its own setup, each of which costs just a few hundred dollars.

Egg Harbor Township uses videoconferencing for virtual class trips and course sharing between schools. Particularly popular are programs that supplement students' education - connections with zoos, science centers, museums.

The programs are cost effective and fun for students, Sweeder said.

"We take kids to a place they normally couldn't go - instead of putting them on a bus and taking them to Philadelphia, the Art Museum comes to them," he said.

As part of National Distance Learning Week, students in the high school's "Holocaust: Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity" class will attend a virtual lecture given by Hartman, whose grandmother was a Holocaust survivor.

Though distance learning may never replace face-to-face interactions, Sweeder has seen firsthand the benefits of high school students taking online college courses, of students from one elementary school being able to loop into the lessons from another elementary school.

"It's just another tool in the toolbox, and it's becoming more readily available," Sweeder said.

Distance education is nothing new - universities have offered correspondence courses for 100 years, but the advent of the Internet has changed the way teachers teach and students learn.

"Every student in my class is now an online researcher, and they can challenge me in ways they never would before," Hartman said. "It makes teaching more fun, it makes learning more fun."

Universities have been quicker than K-12 schools to embrace the changes, but every year, more primary and secondary schools begin to use distance education as a way to bolster their offerings, according to the United States Distance Learning Association.

"I think we're starting to see a shift at the high school level," said Hartman. "Online education gives schools flexibility to reallocate their resources so they can meet their greatest needs."

Convenience is key, but in the end, Hartman said, it boils down to what a new, web-savvy generation of students is demanding.

"Kids are ready for this," Hartman said. "They're at the starting gate, waiting for it to swing open. The only thing that's keeping them back is adults."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Contact reporter Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or kgraham@phillynews.com. To comment, or to ask a question, go to http://go.philly.com/schooltalk.
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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alert for virtual school.

Concerns continue for virtual charter school
Exeter News-Letter Tue, 13 Nov 2007 3:15 AM PST
EXETER — Concerns over the events leading to the approval of a charter for the Virtual Learning Academy were raised again by several on the Exeter Region Cooperative School Board last week.

Virtual school still takes discipline, students say
The Commercial Dispatch Fri, 16 Nov 2007 9:40 AM PST
Making your own school schedule and only talking to your teacher when you feel like logging on to your computer isn't as appealing as it might sound. It takes discipline.


Next, the Yahoo! News Alert for cyber school.

Virtual school program works out kinks
Belleville News-Democrat Mon, 12 Nov 2007 2:49 AM PST
Eric Nanney sometimes takes his book outside and completes his classwork lying on a trampoline. Other times he will ease into a recliner to finish a math assignment. Twice a week he logs onto a computer to talk electronically to his teacher or other fifth-grade students.

Wimba Helps Drive Blended Learning Success for K-12 Environment
Marketwire via Yahoo! Finance Tue, 13 Nov 2007 7:17 AM PST
Wimba, the education technology company that helps people teach people, today announced its involvement in the success of the William Penn School District Cyber Academy serving K-12 students whose circumstances make blended learning an attractive alternative to the traditional, brick-and-mortar classroom.


Moving on to the
Google News Alert for virtual school.

Learn from Florida Virtual School
Gulf Breeze News - FL, USA
BY HANNAH BUNNING Special to the News Do you ever wish you could learn more in high school than the curriculum offers? If so, then Florida Virtual School ...
See all stories on this topic

Tuitions@home
Times of India - India
Unilrn.com, in collaboration with participant schools, offers the complete school curriculum (online), web enabled learning and testing. A virtual classroom ...
See all stories on this topic

Online charter school proposal remains stalled
Newport News Times - Newport,OR,USA
"The first place we looked was the Oregon Virtual School District," Novello told the state board members. OVSD, he added, "has a focus other than a ...
See all stories on this topic

Bladen: No money for virtual school
FayObserver.com - Fayetteville,NC,USA
What happened: Commissioners failed to give $100000 to the county school system to launch a virtual high school program. Why it matters: The program gives ...
See all stories on this topic

Formation of virtual school questioned
Portsmouth Herald News - Portsmouth,NH,USA
Chisholm said that some on the Cooperative Board thought when they voted to support the formation of VLAC that the virtual school would have a tie to the ...
See all stories on this topic

Florida Virtual School a good deal, report says
Orlando Sentinel - Orlando,FL,USA
The Florida Virtual School is a good deal for Florida taxpayers. That is the view of Florida Tax Watch, which recently did a study on student performance ...
See all stories on this topic

Finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Hanover teen joins USA's best in pool
The Evening Sun - Hanover,PA,USA
It is the reason Andrea has become a cyber-school student instead of attending a public school. "We do different work schedules to accommodate everything," ...
See all stories on this topic

Times' School of Journalism hosts roundtable on Cyber-Ed
Manila Times - Philippines
... school managers and teachers are preparing an assessment of the Department of Education's controversial Cyber-Education Project and will submit their ...
See all stories on this topic

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Friday, November 16, 2007

K-12 Online Professional Development Sessions

I'd love to attend if it didn't cost $25.
Below is the description of our next Wise & Witty Weekday session for this academic year.

Title: Tales from the Trenches: Distributed Learning in the K-12 World: The BC Experience
Solvig Norman and Eleanor Liddy
21 November 2007 at 1:00 P.M. (Eastern)
Mode: Elluminate Live!

********
ABSTRACT
********

K-12 distributed learning in British Columbia has a long established history dating back to the old correspondence school model that was established in 1919. Currently there are over 50 different K-12 distributed learning programs in BC (with 33,000 students). This session will explore current challenges and successes, including the use of content, technology, and standards for development & delivery within the K-12 distributed learning system. Open School BC’s role will be highlighted through its unique situation among the main players within BC. Highlights will include an overview of Open School BC’s content development model, online hosting service, and the Educators' Resource Centre, which is a popular online service focused on building a community of collaboration among BC teachers

******************************

To register for this session, please contact Tim Howard of CNIE in Ottawa at cnie-rcie@cnie-rcie.ca, phone 613.241.0018 or fax 613.241.0019. You are welcome to collect your colleagues at your site.

You will receive instructions before the event.

Registrations rates are $25 per workshop per individual OR $100 per workshop per site. Please add the appropriate GST or HST.

We are fortunate in having a small committee to arrange for this and further sessions. The committee members are Krista Francis-Poscente, Bill Fricker, and Bev Pasian. We will announce details for other sessions planned for the year; watch the listserve or our Web site for developments. If you have ideas for future sessions, please let us know.
Also, don't forget that today we have another K-12 one from CIDER.
Dear CIDER Member:

We would like to invite you to the next presentation in our series of free CIDER sessions. This session will feature a presentation and discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Childs, Director of Professional Learning for BCEd Online, and Lara Jongedijk, Project Researcher for BCEd Online.

Title: Research Results from BC's Connected Learner's Technology Projects

What factors help to create effective online learning environments in K-12? In this session, Dr. Elizabeth Childs and Lara Jongedijk will report on the final data from nine provincial Connected Learner's Technology Grant Projects that ran across 18 months and involved 14 school districts in British Columbia. The technologies used in the projects included: webcasting, web-conferencing, synchronous courses using Elluminate Live, use of Smartboards, online tutoring and data archiving. Lessons learned will be discussed and recommendations for making informed decisions when planning and implementing similar technology projects will be shared.

When: Friday, November 16, 2007, 11am-12pm MST (Alberta)

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. If necessary, Elluminate customer care technicians are available to assist you toll-free at 866-388-8674 option 2. International users can dial 703-956-3812.

The session will be recorded and available for future playback from http://cider.athabascau.ca/CIDERSessions/

CIDER is a Community Partner of Elluminate - http://www.elluminate.com - 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
Hope to see you there for the CIDER one, and I'll try and post the free archive of the CNIE one after it goes up on their website.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Report - Online Nation: Five Years Of Growth In Online Learning

The report deals with higher education, but it might be useful for those interested in virtual schooling. The message came from Distance-Educator.com, Inc..
Download Report -- Online Nation: Five Years Of Growth In Online Learning
Source: The Sloan Consortium
Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning represents the fifth annual report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education. This year’s study, like those for the previous four years, is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and based on responses from more than 2,500 colleges and universities, the study addresses the following key questions:
http://www.distance-educator.com/dnews/Article15645.phtml
Any thoughts?

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Monday, November 12, 2007

CIDER Presentation - Research Results from BC¹s Connected Learner¹s Tec

Just a reminder about an up-coming CIDER presentation...
Research Results from BC¹s Connected Learner¹s Technology Projects
Institution: BCEd Online
Date and time: Nov 16, 2007 11:00 AM

What factors help to create effective online learning environments in K-12? In this session, Dr. Elizabeth Childs and Lara Jongedijk will report on the final data from nine provincial Connected Learner's Technology Grant Projects that ran across 18 months and involved 14 school districts in British Columbia. The technologies used in the projects included: webcasting, web-conferencing, synchronous courses using Elluminate Live, use of Smartboards, online tutoring and data archiving. Lessons learned will be discussed and recommendations for making informed decisions when planning and implementing similar technology projects will be shared.
See http://cider.athabascau.ca/CIDERSessions/.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Act of Remembrance

Nothing to do with virtual schooling today, as for us Canadians and others in British Commonwealth countries, today is Remembrance Day.


My personal thoughts on Remembrance Day go to two from my own family that I have had the good fortune to know and learn from... my grandfather Samuel Barbour and my great Uncle Rupert Morris. My grandfather was a member of the Royal Artillery, 59th Newfoundland Heavy Regiment during World War II. My Uncle Rupert was an engineer with the Canadian Army who was involved in the Battle of Arnhem.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae
I also think of the individual who I was first employed by during my political career, Senator Jack Marshall. Senator Marshall was a D-Day veteran, and when I began to work for him the Chair of the Senate Sub-Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Today I remember the sacrifices of all veterans, include my late Uncle Rupert, the late Senator Jack Marshall, and in particular, my grandfather Samuel Barbour.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News alert for virtual school.

Correction
The Record Sun, 04 Nov 2007 10:59 PM PST
About 370 schools worldwide participate in the Virtual High School Global Consortium. An article Wednesday gave an incorrect number.

Bladen: No money for virtual school
The Fayetteville Observer Mon, 05 Nov 2007 10:19 PM PST
What happened: Commissioners failed to give $100,000 to the county school system to launch a virtual high school program. Why it matters: The program gives students access to classes that might not be offered at their local high school.

Unclear laws with virtual charter school
Exeter News-Letter Tue, 06 Nov 2007 3:16 AM PST
EXETER — An attorney who specializes in charter school law told the SAU 16 Joint School Board that once the state approves a new charter school the school becomes a separate legal entity from the district that sponsored the application.

Formation of virtual school questioned
Exeter News-Letter Tue, 06 Nov 2007 3:15 AM PST
EXETER — Parents, teachers and students from the Great Bay eLearning Charter School packed the cafeteria at Exeter High School last Monday night as the members of school boards across the district addressed concerns about the formation of the new...

Online learning expands curriculum options for students at Merrimack High School
Merrimack Journal Fri, 09 Nov 2007 7:19 PM PST
It may fly in the face of the traditional classroom environment, but Merrimack High School is making the most of Virtual High School, an online educational and professional development program offered to high school students globally.


Next, the Yahoo! News alert for cyber school.

Cyber Charter Schools in Pennsylvania
The Morning Call Mon, 05 Nov 2007 6:09 AM PST
21st Century Cyber Charter School, Downingtown

Times’ School of Journalism hosts roundtable on Cyber-Ed
The Manila Times Fri, 09 Nov 2007 6:53 AM PST
Some 50 information-technology specialists and educators, school managers and teachers are preparing an assessment of the Department of Education’s controversial Cyber-Education Project and will submit their recommendation on it to the government.

Getting a leg up academically
The Philadelphia Inquirer Fri, 09 Nov 2007 1:17 AM PST
If Rob Lohr honors his oral commitment to play football at Vanderbilt, he will be on an even playing field with most incoming freshman recruits when he shows up on the Nashville campus next summer. Academically, Lohr, 17, could be many yards ahead. The standout tight end and defensive end at Phoenixville is enrolled in the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, a public school program offering ...


Finally, the Google News alert for virtual school.

Proposed Charter School In Lookout Valley Gets Low Marks From ...
The Chattanoogan - Chattanooga,TN,USA
She said students would have laptop computers outside, and she said "virtual Fridays" would allow virtual learning on that day. She said the school could ...
See all stories on this topic

NACOL Releases Access and Equity in Online Classes and Virtual Schools
Earthtimes - London,UK
More than half of the states currently have some form of state-run virtual school, with additional state programs in the planning stage. ...
See all stories on this topic

Edwards school targeted for alternative program
Asbury Park Press - Asbury Park,NJ,USA
For those placed at the Edwards school, the district will employ MOESC's virtual school, an online academy that follows state core-curriculum standards with ...
See all stories on this topic

Virtual academy sign-up continues
The Union Leader - Manchester,NH,USA
Enrollment began Oct.1, on the heels of the announcement by school officials in September the virtual school, a brainchild of SAU 16 Superintendent Arthur ...
See all stories on this topic

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Online Learning Open Houses

This is interesting and there is one session dealing with K-12 - plus it appears that the Florida Virtual School people will have some kind of open house as well.

There is a growing transformation in education, and it’s called distance learning.

Currently, over 2.5 million college students are taking online course and/or earning online college degrees. At the secondary school level, over 700,000 high school students are taking one or more courses online, and nearly 40 states have established state-wide or state-lead virtual schools. Michigan became the first state in 2007 to require high school students take at least one online course for graduation.

Today, you can earn just about any degree online (high school, associate, undergraduate, and graduate) from dozens of schools and colleges across the United States. The Sloan Consortium maintains a catalog of degrees and certificate programs offered by a wide range of regionally accredited institutions.

Distance learning allows you to learn from home, from work, or anywhere else – without commuting. You learn when it's convenient for you.

Using the latest technology to help students learn, distance learning stimulates you in ways a simple lecture can't. It is interactive, engaging and effective. For example, you can pull up a streaming video, sit in a virtual classroom, collaborate on a group project, listen to a podcast, take part in a discussion board or chat group, e-mail your fellow classmates, or instant message your professor. Distance learning students may not be on a campus, but they are engaged and connecting all the time.

Experience distance learning for yourself by registering and attending the following Online Open Houses, where you can see first-hand, how and what distance learning is all about.
See http://www.ndlw.org/learners.html for more information.

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A Guest Blogger for VSS2007

Just wanted to let you know that a doctoral student from BYU (and a frequent commenter here), Abigail Gonzales, has sent me the notes that she took from the recent 2007 Virtual School Symposium in Louisville so that I could post them here.

As she indicates:
"It is just the raw information, I was just taking down information with no analysis, so do with it what you like. Some of the sessions I didn't take as much down as others."
I have gone back and placed them in the correct order of when they would have happened as if she had been posting them in real time at the conference. You will note that the title for each of these begins "VSS2007 (Guest Blogger)" and then the title of the session. Each entry also begins with "Session notes from our guest blogger, Abby."

Our thanks to Abby for allowing us to post this "raw information" for those who were able to join us in Louisville.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

NACOL on PBS Television's "To the Contrary"

As a follow-up from the Virtual School Symposium, here's an item that I received just before the conference from NACOL.
Dear NACOL Member:

The North American Council for Online Learning is pleased to share you with a link to the recently podcast segment of PBS News’ "To The Contrary/Behind the Headlines: Public Schools go Virtual with Online Classes". The television program aired on October 26, 2007.

NACOL on PBS Television's "To the Contrary" on October 26, 2007
The Virtual Classroom segment
Podcast available (free):
http://www.pbs.org/ttc/rss/media/redir/http://www-tc.pbs.org/ttc/rss/media/ttc_102607.mp3

Susan Patrick is quoted extensively. Note the entire 30 minute program is on the podcast and the Virtual Classroom segment starts just short of 2/3 the way through the audio clip (Minutes 18:22 - 21:38).

My favorite quote from the program: "Being against online learning is like being against electricity."

Pros and Cons: Lots of good information about online learning; the balance part at the end seemed a little off, some of the discussion was about home schooling, the people trying to do the debate clearly didn't know the subject well, overall a very positive piece for virtual schooling.

Thank you for your continued support of NACOL to provide advocacy and leadership for K-12 online learning.
Any comments?

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

VSS2007 - Final Thoughts

I trust that everyone who was in Louisville got home okay. Okay, I'm finally getting around to posting my final thought about this week's Virtual School Symposium. As someone more interested in research, my thoughts will focus upon that aspect.

One of the initiatives that we (i.e., the Research Committee) tried this year which I kind of took the lead in was these Researcher Sign-Up Meetings. It was kind of something that we added on shortly before the conference.

For those not in Louisville or those that simply did not hear about it, basically what we did was I took two sheets of paper and divided the days up in 30 minute slots, from 9:30am to 4:00pm on Monday and from 9:30am to noon on Tuesday. Each piece of paper had two columns, one for us to sign up in and one for the people who wanted meetings to sign up in. The system was promoted solely at the first timers meeting.

First of all, let me thank to the three researchers that signed up to meet with those who requested meetings, along with those who were willing to sign up if we had more people interested and all of the others that I saw who either helped me track down people to sign up.

We had three people, all doctoral students, sign up for four meetings. In talking with all three doctoral student after their sessions, all were very appreciative of our time and the advice/guidance that we provided. For me (as I met with one of the three students), I know that my meeting was a good one and I enjoyed the conversation. I think the doctoral student left with a better sense of how she could pursue a topic around virtual school teachers that she was interested in for her dissertation, plus more importantly a list of other researchers at VSS to track down who were more specialized in that area.

While the system we had in placed served the purpose this year, this was the first year that we have tried this, it was a last minute things and it was only promoted at the first timers meeting - so there are probably better ways to do this...

At another conference that I used to attend (i.e., the Qualitative Interest Group or QUIG), the qualitative faculty each set aside a half day of this three day conference for these meetings. Each faculty member has an individual sheet, so people can sign up specifically for their half hour slot with that researcher.

One of the researcher committee members made the suggestion that if there was a way for people when they register to indicate that they wanted to meet with one of us, and then have a series of boxes that had all of the different areas or expertises that they could check, in terms of what they wanted to meet about. That way we would know who is the best person to meet with them and that person could arrange things directly with them.

If you have other suggestions, I would love to hear about them...

One of the other things I have been reflecting on is how we structure out presentations. For example, there were some of the break-out sessions that only had one or had no research presentations going on, while there were other sessions that had three and four going on at the same time. This meant that some blocks I really had no choice where I was going if I wanted to focus upon the research currently being done, but others sessions I had to pick and choose between big names in the field and very interesting presentations. I'm wondering if there isn't a better way to try and even this out a bit.

Two weeks before VSS I was at e-Learn in Quebec City. In their planning, they categories the presentations (based upon the presenter's self selection) into the following categories:
  • Content Development

  • Evaluation

  • Implementation Examples and Issues

  • Instructional Design

  • Policy Issues

  • Research

  • Social and Cultural Issues

  • Standards and Interoperability

  • Tools and Systems

  • Other

In the printed program, there is a code for each of these so you know the thematic focus of the session (i.e., a session marked "RES" is going to focus upon research). It also allows the planners to spread out the sessions from similar thematic areas so that all of the SCI (i.e., social and cultural issues) are scheduled at the same time. This is something that NACOL might want to do to assist in both their own planning and in spreading out these sessions a little more.

Another model that could be used is one that the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) and the College and University Faculty Association (CUFA) uses. CUFA is the faculty group in NCSS. They have their meetings, which are largely research focused, the day before the NCSS main convention. All participants at NCSS are also invited to attend the CUFA meetings. This gives those involved in research a day where that is all that is done and those practitioners that have an interest in research have the opportunity to be immersed in it for a day.

Just some ideas, and I think we should discuss these and any others that people have. That way we can begin to work out some more bugs and have a better system available next year. BTW, the conference will be in Phoenix next year and will be held the weekend before the Presidential election (can't recall the date in my head now).

So, let the discussion begin...

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What Are Kids Learning in Virtual Worlds?

So, it will be tomorrow before I get to post my final thoughts on the Virtual School Symposium. In the meantime, I got this from the MacArthur E-newsletter that I get in my inbox.
What Are Kids Learning in Virtual Worlds?

You are invited to a panel discussion on the wonders and worries of virtual worlds for kids and parents on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. at the Davidson Conference Center at the University of Southern California. Participants include journalist Anastasia Goodstein, Global Kids Director Barry Joseph, UCLA Professor Yasmin Kafai, MacArthur Vice President Julia Stasch Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer, and USC Professor Doug Thomas. To attend, please register by November 10. MacArthurs $50 million digital media and learning initiative seeks to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. View the invitation.

for more information

MacArthur's digital media and learning website
MacArthur digital media and learning grants
Video: "Are kids changing because of digital media?"
Should be interesting...

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21st Century Learning: 'We're Not Even Close'

Well, I am back up north again, after a successful Virtual School Symposium and a six hour drive home. After thinking a lot about the conference on the drive home I have some additional thoughts that I'll post later today or tomorrow, however, when I checked my e-mail this morning look at what I found.
21st Century Learning: 'We're Not Even Close'

T.H.E. News Update: November 7, 2007

What You Need To Know Now

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:::::: NEWS & ISSUES

: 21st Century Learning: 'We're Not Even Close'

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:::::: NEWS & ISSUES ::::::

: 21st Century Learning: 'We're Not Even Close'

Without incorporating technology into every aspect of its activities, no organization can expect to achieve results in this increasingly digital world. Yet education is dead last in technology use compared with all major industrial sectors, and that has to change in order for schools to meet the challenges of 21st century learning--this according to a paper released Monday by the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills at the SETDA Leadership Summit and Education Forum in Washington, DC.

Click to continue:
http://www.1105newsletters.com/xrciscb_tuxzvxuxu.html

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I figured that this was worth posting, given my little rant yesterday about VSS2007 - Virtual Schools and 21st Century Skills. Enjoy...

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

VSS2007 - Student Panel

I'll be honest and state that of all the Virtual School Symposiums that I have attended, this is the first time that I have attended the student panel, so this was new for me.

There were four students, one young lady was in grade six and the other three students were high school students. They had a variety of experience, from students who were taking their first virtual school course to one young lady who had taken half dozen or more AP courses over her high school career.

Many of the students indicated that they were taking virtual school courses because the courses simply weren't offered in their school. One young lady was pursuing a career in modeling and being a virtual school student allowed her to travel for further her career, but still be a student in the state. The grade six student had already skipped one grade in her academic career and instead of skipping a second grade, the virtual school courses allowed her to stay with her student colleagues and simply supplement her learning at a higher level online.

One of the students mentioned that her online courses have taught her discipline and organization, two of the other students mentioned that they have gained a great deal in the way of technology skills because of their virtual schooling. The youngest panelist was quite a witty young lady and even at the age of eleven or twelve was able to give the standard answer to the question, with the charm of a child... blah, blah, blah, etc... :)

The same young lady read this little essay that she wrote about what her vision of the school of the future would look like in twenty years time. I'd encourage NACOL to get a copy of that and post it to their website, as it was quite refreshing.

The final thing that I found interesting was the panel was asked a question about whether or not they were concerns about the fact that if school was all online that they didn't have as much or the same level of interaction with their friends. What I liked about the students' responses was that they didn't focus upon their interaction in online or virtual environments, such as instant messaging or social networking, but they focused upon all of the other ways that they interact with their peers outside of the formal school and after-school environment. Kind of opposite from what Prensky, Jukes and some of the others talking about digital natives and other generational differences. One young lady even mentioned that there are more community-based sports and activities that are beginning to replace some of the school-based extra-curricular items, and this is where more of that social interaction takes place as opposed to only in school.

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