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Monday, December 31, 2007

K-12 Online Learning in Ireland

Well, my wife is working tonight so I am home alone and have some time for this entry. The NACOL communications manager posted this to one of their forums earlier today. It is an example of K-12 online learning outside of North America that wanted to share here.
Pupils gain extra course access, Belfast, United Kingdom

Pupils gain extra course access
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The internet is being employed as a tool to allow pupils at an Ulster grammar school to access vital pieces of coursework at any time of the day or night.

Antrim Grammar School, which has put multiple entries forward in the Belfast Telegraph & Valueoils.com Young Web Designer of the Year competition, has integrated IT into every facet of school life.

Via an extensive intranet system, students can access all coursework from home or even the local library using a secure password.

And for those without home computers, the school is starting a new laptop loan programme where pupils can borrow a computer for a period of time.

The school has developed a strong programme of investment in IT in recent years - all teachers were given laptop computers four years ago and intensive training has taken place to help staff realise the potential of IT usage in the classroom.

The school also installed interactive whiteboards into every single classroom and trained staff in their use, explained Deborah Fitzsimmons, ICT subject leader.

"Research has shown that many schools don't make the most of their interactive whiteboards because teachers don't understand how to use them," she said.

" Because our staff have had their own laptops for years, they have all developed a really keen interest in IT and have taken the training on offer to heart."

The interactive whiteboards are used on a daily basis for a whole range of uses - it can link directly to websites and display the site in this large format for the whole class to see, it is used for map work for geography while the science and maths departments use flipcharts for diagramming.

The whiteboards are interactive so students can work directly on the board and the classwork can be saved for use in another session.

Antrim Grammar's intranet system has been a major bonus for staff and pupils alike. Virtual learning areas have been set up so students can log on and look at the teacher's notes, check homework due dates and also communicate internally.

"We are extending the school outside the confines of the building itself and the normal school day. Students can work outside the normal hours of 9am to 3pm on collaborative projects in a safe online system," said the curriculum vice principal at the school, Victor Hughes.

Antrim Grammar is also working on video commentary which can be downloaded to the school's website.
As I think I've mentioned in the past, virtual schooling is largely a North American concept - specifically in Canada and the United States - at least in he supplemental and full-time programs that we are familiar with. This is a good example of the kind of online learning available in other countries around the world.

For a really good overview of what other countries are doing, I recommend NACOL's:

An International Perspective of K-12 Online Learning: A Summary of the 2006 NACOL International Survey and International Matrix

This survey was conducted by Allison Powell and Susan Patrick, where they contacted individuals in the departments and ministries of education from countries around the world and completed this report based upon the responses that they received. So while there may be some question about this kind of self-report data, it still represents the best global picture that we have to date about the state of K-12 online learning worldwide.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!!!!

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the ASCD SmartBrief.

Online Spanish-language courses aim to reduce ELL dropout rate
When Dallas' high school English-language learners return to school after the winter break, they will become the first in the state to learn algebra, biology, geometry, chemistry and world history online in their native Spanish. While bilingual education is common in Texas at the elementary level, a shortage of qualified teachers means most older ELL students receive instruction only in English, which some educators say results in some students falling far behind on the material or dropping out. The Dallas Morning News (12/26)

Back to the regular Yahoo! News Alert for virtual school.

High school may be going virtual in Norwood
The Daily News Transcript Sun, 23 Dec 2007 9:07 PM PST
Norwood High School students next year may be taking virtual classes - sort of.

High School Courses Online
Hartford Courant Fri, 28 Dec 2007 3:20 AM PST
Public high school students statewide may enroll in free online courses offered as part of a new state-funded program called the CT Virtual Learning Center.


Next the Yahoo! News Alert for cyber school.

Are cyber schools the answer?
The Oregonian Thu, 27 Dec 2007 0:19 AM PST
UPDATED: :19 a.m. PDT, December 27, 2007 Jefferson High School's guard Janita Badon passes the ball in the second half during the 2007 Interstate Shootout at Lake Oswego High School gym.


Moving to the Google News Alert for virtual school.

EDUCATION NOTES
Dallas Morning News - Dallas,TX,USA
Schools recognized for exemplary programs: Southern Methodist University's Infinity Project, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD's Algebra I Virtual Campus and ...
See all stories on this topic

High school may be going virtual in Norwood
Daily News Transcript - Needham,MA,USA
By Brian Falla/Daily News staff School officials have included $12000 in the fiscal 2009 initial budget request to purchase Virtual High School, ...
See all stories on this topic

Park Hill school board notes
Kansas City Star - MO,USA
Virtual Academy: The board learned that 21 students have signed up for Virtual Academy. The district is offering two online classes – personal ...
See all stories on this topic

Winchester system taking part in Virtual High School
Winchester Star - Winchester,VA,USA
By Star Staff Report Winchester — Winchester Public Schools has become a participating site for Virtual High School, an online educational program offering ...
See all stories on this topic

Finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Saints for Nicholas: Mother, Make-A-Wish, body shop make teen's ...
Lancaster Newspapers - Lancaster,PA,USA

Nicholas, who was in public school until he became ill and is now enrolled in a cyber school, hopes to go to a technical school after graduation and study ...
See all stories on this topic

IHS could move to a new campus after spring break
Rio Rancho Observer - Rio Rancho,NM,USA
... Cyber Academy building since the district sold the previous IHS campus to a private developer in August 2005 and abandoned it after the 2006-07 school ...
See all stories on this topic

Until next time (which I guess will also be next year)...

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Governor Speaks on Virtual Schooling

Another item from Allison in the NACOL forums.
GOVERNOR KAINE’S PREPARED REMARKS, VA to Fund Virtual AP Courses

This is great to have a governor speak about virtual education! About 3/4 of the way down the page, under Education, he mentions that he wants to fund virtual AP Courses.

GOVERNOR KAINE’S PREPARED REMARKS TO JOINT MEETING OF THE SENATE FINANCE, HOUSE

http://www.virginiastar.net/articles2/ar07...arks_Budget.htm
Wouldn't it be nice if we could get them all saying these kinds of things?

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Foreign Language Learning Online

Got this item from Allison Powell in the NACOL forums.
Live online classes cash in on Chinese-language le, The Star Online

This article is from The Star Online (http://thestar.com.my)
URL: http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?f...54&sec=business
__________________________________________________________________________
Monday December 24, 2007
Live online classes cash in on Chinese-language learning
By CHEN JIALU

FRED Rao hopes to make learning the Chinese language accessible in every corner of the globe as even the most remote regions now have Internet access.

His company’s live online one-to-one video classes are now enabling many foreigners, including a taxi driver in Bolivia, to learn the language and its characters.

Founder and chief executive officer Rao operates eChineseLearning.com, China’s largest video-based online Chinese tutoring website. Since starting the operation last December, the website has signed up more than 400 overseas students ranging in age from four to 74 living in 42 countries. New student enrollment is growing at a two-digit rate month-on-month.

In eChineseLearning’s studio, dozens of teachers’ present Chinese classes in front of computers, giving the office the look of a busy call centre.

Using the company’s self-developed teaching software, along with writing tablets and telephony like Skype, students in far away places can listen, talk to and see teachers, as well as the blackboards behind them. The one-on-one teaching model enables students to schedule lessons and choose course content themselves.

“Sometimes after I see a Chinese movie, I asked my tutor to talk about my favourite scenes, or when I plan go to a Chinese restaurant, I ask the tutor to teach me how to order Chinese food in Chinese,” said Gil Lan, a law professor in York University, Toronto, who has been studying Chinese on eChineseLearning for five months.

“The customised courses are more flexible and interesting, but only charge 50 yuan an hour, compared with C$40 (210 yuan) an hour at Toronto’s weekend Chinese schools,” he said, adding that it usually takes a year to finish a whole textbook in a Canadian community school, but only five months in his class on eChineseLearning.”

The growing popularity of eChinese-Learning has already provided work for 40 teachers, most of who majored in teaching Chinese as a foreign language.

Demand is so strong that the firm is now shorthanded and the shortage could become more acute as increasing numbers of foreigners want to learn Chinese.

The Economist magazine estimates that there are about 30 million foreigners across the world learning Chinese today.

Only about 80,000 foreigners were able to come to China to study the language, according to figures released by the Ministry of Education. Rao estimates the value of the Chinese language education market at US$1bil.

In the United States alone there are currently over 700,000 children of Chinese descent whose native language is English or another language.

These days they are showing growing interest in Chinese.

“It is not practical to start a Chinese school to cater to a small group, but an Internet-based system can do it,” said Rao.

In August eChineseLearning paired with Sina.com, which has over 1.4 million registered users and an average of 1.5 million daily page views in North America, to begin an educational channel to cash in on the largest Chinese Internet portal’s customer base.

The encouraging prospects of e-learning as well as the growing popularity of Chinese-language study, have prompted a number of venture capitalists to approach eChineseLearning.com and offer investment capital.

Rao is now considering branching out to second-tier cities like Tianjin and Xi’an and plans to recruit teachers locally to build a chain of low cost teaching centres.

“Teacher salaries account for the largest portion of our operational costs, but wages are lower in smaller cities compared to Beijing and Shanghai,” he said.

Rao was brought up in a household of educators. His father was the former deputy editor-in-chief of the People’s Education Press and his mother was an English teacher. During his college life in the United States from 2000 to 2002, Rao co-founded a weekend Chinese community school called the Colorado Springs Chinese Culture Institute.

After returning to China, he allied in 2003 with fellow Chinese Stanford graduates to start the video-sharing website UUMe.com.

As chief operating officer of Uume.com, Rao helped build a user base of millions and successfully attracted three rounds of venture capital investment from a number of firms including Legend Capital and ACCEL fund.

Video sharing is now growing in popularity in China but the market has become overcrowded.

Moving into the e-learning market as a pioneer – especially teaching Chinese language live online could be the niche.
I can't find the source, but I recall that Mandarin was listed as a popular course in the Michigan Virtual School last year or two years ago.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

More on Virtual Schooling in Wisconsin

Okay, I've spend some time over the holidays looking at the ruling in the Wisconsin case. In case you were wondering, you can access it at:
Before Christmas, I posted some thoughts about the decision itself - see Should NACOL Get Involved?. Also see Signing off virtual schools for a good legal overview of the case from a Wisconsin attorney and law professor.

During this time, we've had some more people on the blogsphere weigh in. Here are just some of the ones that I've seen:
It was also interesting to read an item posted by the Wisconsin Parents Association as a way to mobilize their members on this issue:

http://www.homeschooling-wpa.org/issues/2007-charter/

I think that her first two points under the important facts are indeed important to remember. The court did not rule that parents cannot teach their children. It ruled that a virtual school cannot receive funding for that students when the child is largely being taught by the parent. And the most important line of all falls into the second point:

"especially since money is a motivating factor"

As I indicated in my previous post (see Problems Are Brewing in Wisconsin), the real issue here is that you have a school that is getting funding for work being done not by their own teachers, but by the parents. This is a form of glorified homeschooling, but someone is getting funded to do it (and not even the someone who is doing most of the work).

So please make sure you read this clearly, while I have some personal problems with some of the political motivations of some in the homeschooling movement (and these stem from my understandings based upon Michael Apple's work), I do believe that in some cases there are legitimate reasons parents choose the homeschooling option. I think legislation should reflect this reality and make it easy for parents to choose this option, while maintaining appropriate oversight to ensure that the child is being adequately educated.

Having said that, I do have a problem with a cyber school receiving public funding for the work that is largely being done by parents. If a parent decides to homeschool their child, they don't get funding to do so, why should some cyber school get those funds for doing almost the same job?

As a side note, I thought that the WPA did a good job with its history of virtual charter schools that they posted:

To increase profits, in recent years several curriculum providers have been marketing their virtual schools to school districts so districts rather than parents pay for the curriculums, which often cost over $1,000 per child per year. One such corporation is K12, Inc., originally headed by William Bennett, who was Secretary of Education under President Reagan. Bennett has fallen from favor and no longer heads K12, Inc. WPA opposed the establishment of such schools and testified at hearings in several school districts. (See WPA’s opposing public E-Schools.) Lake Mills School District considered and rejected a contract with K12, Inc., but in 2003, Northern Ozaukee School District signed on. Northern Ozaukee faced declining enrollment and wanted to increase enrollment, jobs, and its budget. (In its contract with Northern Ozaukee, K-12, Inc. agreed to cover court costs and attorneys’ fees resulting from lawsuits.)

Wisconsin has never had a statute saying that virtual charter schools are legal. From the beginning, these schools have relied on loopholes in statutes governing charter schools and open enrollment that were enacted before virtual charter schools came into existed and were not intended to authorize them.

Kind of reads like an indictment, doesn't it?

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from VHSM!!!

A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Virtual High School Meanderings!!!!!

In keeping with the season, a little Christmas Cheer for you in the form of a podcasted story from Stuart McLean of CBC Radio's Vinyl Cafe Stories.


Enjoy...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Please note that I'm taking a few days off for the holidays. I'll be back online and blogging on 27 or 28 January. Until then...

Beginning with the Yahoo! News Alert for virtual school.

8-year-old attends virtual class
The Gleaner Sat, 15 Dec 2007 10:06 PM PST
ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) -- Emily Stapleton is 8 years old but hasn't attended school since kindergarten -- a precaution her parents and doctors are taking because of her heightened susceptibility to illness after leukemia treatment.

Greeneville High School gets virtual classroom
Bristol Herald Courier Tue, 18 Dec 2007 3:32 PM PST
students are out of class for winter break, crews are hard at work inside the High-tech equipment will transform a Tri-Cities classroom into a "virtual classroom." While Greeneville High Schoolschool, installing technological bells and whistles to one classroom. News Channel 11's Melinda Perkins found the purpose of the project is to broaden learning opportunities for students. The new virtual ...

Greeneville High School gets "virtual classroom"
Bristol Herald Courier Tue, 18 Dec 2007 2:10 PM PST
students are out of class for winter break, crews are hard at work inside the High-tech equipment will transform a Tri-Cities classroom into a "virtual classroom." While Greeneville High Schoolschool, installing technological bells and whistles to one classroom.

Virtual learning works best for homework
The Record Wed, 19 Dec 2007 6:29 AM PST
"I am going to be up so late tonight doing all this homework" is a phrase commonly heard within the classrooms at Ridgefield Memorial High School.

New Year's Resolution for the Whole Family: Make Your Home More Conducive for Learning
PRWeb Wed, 19 Dec 2007 0:26 AM PST
Leading virtual public school, Connections Academy®, offers five easy tips to help support education in the home. (PRWeb Dec 19, 2007) Post Comment:Trackback URL: http://www.prweb.com/pingpr.php/U2luZy1TdW1tLVNpbmctQ3Jhcy1UaGlyLVplcm8=

New Year's Resolution for the Whole Family: Make Your Home More Conducive for Learning
PRWeb via Yahoo! News Tue, 18 Dec 2007 11:01 PM PST
Leading virtual public school, Connections Academy®, offers five easy tips to help support education in the home.

Dawn Manbeck's blog update: Culture shock
Baxter Bulletin Thu, 20 Dec 2007 9:31 AM PST
Texas Virtual Academy @ Southwest expanded into our area this year, and since they are using K-12 as their curricula, we decided to give it a try. ... TXVA is a public charter school, so that means we have a teacher, we have to report attendance, we have *requirements* for the first time since we started homeschooling in 2001. It's turning out to be more of an adjustment than I counted on. Read ...

Medford-based virtual school not affected by court decision
Marshfield News Herald Sat, 22 Dec 2007 1:48 AM PST
A local virtual school wont shut down despite warnings that a recent court decision could kill online education programs.

Winchester system taking part in Virtual High School
Winchester Star Fri, 21 Dec 2007 9:29 PM PST
Winchester — Winchester Public Schools has become a participating site for Virtual High School, an online educational program offering regular, summer, Advanced Placement and Pre-AP courses.


Moving on to Google News Alert for virtual school.

New centre to boost Indo-UK research
Times of India - India
"The consortium has already secured over $3 million to establish the first-ever India-UK virtual graduate research school, which will support collaborative ...
See all stories on this topic

Lampert Smith: Virtual school was real solution
Wisconsin State Journal - Madison,WI,USA
After home schooling their son through much of eighth grade, the family was delighted to find the Monroe Virtual High School, a charter school run out of ...
See all stories on this topic

Jeff Bush: Virtual schools here to stay; law, courts must adapt
The Capital Times - Madison,WI,USA
Virtual school isn't for all children. And we fully appreciate that communities have made tremendous investments in the brick, mortar and equipment that ...
See all stories on this topic

Virtual classroom part of leukemia treatment for 8-year-old girl
Kentucky.com - Lexington,KY,USA
... interaction with friends at school. McHenry, with help from the Center for Rural Development, helped the young girl get set up in the virtual classroom.
See all stories on this topic

Friday Guest Column: Virtual EMO K-12's IPO - Shades of Investors ...
Education Week News - Bethesda,MD,USA
State policy makers and charter school boards – take note when negotiating your deals! K12 instructional costs and services range between 50% and 60% of ...
See all stories on this topic

Guest Shot: Virtual school belongs to SAU 16 taxpayers
Exeter News-Letter - Exeter,NH,USA
At a minimum, the Coop Board needs to go to the state board and reclaim the Virtual Charter School that is rightfully theirs.
See all stories on this topic

Web opening new classroom doors
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription) - Milwaukee,WI,USA
Instead of replacing the face-to-face interaction of a brick-and-mortar school with a virtual-school experience, Nelson and other teachers throughout the ...
See all stories on this topic

Virtual charter high school on verge of connection
Newport News Times - Newport,OR,USA
... School District and governed by the local Oregon Council for Online Learning - is poised to open its virtual doors in January for spring semester. ...
See all stories on this topic

Waukesha ponders issues facing virtual school
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription) - Milwaukee,WI,USA
Last week, the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Waukesha found the Northern Ozaukee School District's virtual school violated several state laws and ordered ...
See all stories on this topic

Parents wait for fallout from online school ruling
Green Bay Press Gazette - Green Bay,WI,USA
Eighth-grade daughter Erin goes to Green Bay's Red Smith School, while eldest daughter Dora is in ninth grade at iQ Academies, a virtual high school. ...
See all stories on this topic

Online school ruled illegal, worrying local parents
Green Bay Press Gazette - Green Bay,WI,USA
Eighth-grade daughter Erin goes to Green Bay's Red Smith School, while eldest daughter Dora is in ninth grade at iQ Academies, a virtual high school. ...
See all stories on this topic

Finally, the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Cyber charter school is an excellent alternative
Allentown Morning Call - Allentown,PA,USA
Karen Beyer's House Bill 446 about cyber charter schools: We are the parents of a cyber school child. We think this bill is a waste of the House's time. ...
See all stories on this topic

16 - CyberEd will not sidetrack DepEd's infra projects
Bayanihan.org - Philippines
The Department of Education (DepEd) on Sunday said the construction of school buildings and classrooms is being addressed with or without the Cyber ...
See all stories on this topic

School hypocrisy
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
State House legislation would cap tuition at the online schools at about $6500 -- a move that cyber school advocates say would force some schools to close. ...
See all stories on this topic

House bill will hurt cyber charter schools
Allentown Morning Call - Allentown,PA,USA
Proponents of an anti-cyber school bill (House Bill 446) claim the legislation will strengthen public cyber schools. What a paradox! ...
See all stories on this topic

Parents stand up for neighborhood schools in Connellsville
Uniontown Herald Standard - Uniontown,PA,USA
... to have the district remain at status quo, but if the board is set to make changes, she will consider her own options of home schooling or cyber school. ...
See all stories on this topic

Cyber school, services firm reach settlement in lawsuit
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School board has agreed to an $800000 settlement with Rodis LLC, which provided management services to the charter school ...
See all stories on this topic

Legislators Seek 'Accountability' For Cyber Charters
Evening Bulletin - Philadelphia,PA,USA
He notes that Mrs. Beyer has pushed strongly for the cyber school bill, which the unions support, but remains "undecided" on the anti-strike bills. "Rep. ...
See all stories on this topic

PA Cyber, Rodis settle
The Review - East Liverpool,OH,USA
By REBEKAH POTTER (rpotter@reviewonline.com) A settlement between the Midland-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and a firm which formerly managed some ...
See all stories on this topic

Until next week...

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Should NACOL Get Involved?

Okay, we're talking about the Wisconsin case again. I noticed that the President and Vice-President of the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) posted this to one of their forms and a Yahoo! News Group earlier today.
NACOL is very concerned about the impact that the recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision may have on online learning in Wisconsin. To that end, NACOL is considering submitting an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief on behalf of all those interested in quality online learning in WI urging the State Supreme Court to take the case on appeal. The goal is to provide a way for Wisconsin’s diverse virtual education community to speak with one voice about the importance of online learning opportunities for Wisconsin students, without necessarily arguing the specific details of the case. NACOL sees this as an opportunity for NACOL and its Wisconsin members to play an important and inclusive leadership role on these issues. For more information, see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wisconsin_Online_Learning_Community/
Okay, now I've already posted on this topic once - see Problems Are Brewing in Wisconsin - and I have to be honest and say that I'm not sure that NACOL should be getting involved in this case at this level.

As I think that you will all know, I am a supporter of virtual school - a proponent if you will. However, I think that there is a legitimate case here and I'm not sure it does NACOL any good to go off and support the Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA) simply because they are a cyber charter school - and to be honest I begin to question what exactly NACOL is standing for by taking this action.

If you look at the actual Court of Appeals decision you'll see that the case against WIVA is quite convincing. According to the appeal court decision, there were three main issues: where is the school located, what does it mean to attend a virtual school, and what teaching role can parents play in virtual schooling.

Dealing with the first issue, whether the district created a charter school that operates outside of the boundaries of the district itself. The WIVA argued that the school was located in the district because its administration and secretarial support were located in the district. The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) argued that most of the teachers hired by the virtual charter school and the majority of the students were located outside of the district, thereby the school was located outside of the district. The appeals court decided that the school existed both in the district and partly outside of the district based upon current state statutes.

On the second issue, what it meant to attend a school. The WEAC argued that to attend meant to physically go to a school, while the WIVA believed that to attend in a virtual sense meant where a student was enrolled. The court took the opinion that if the school was located, at least partially, outside of the district that this point was unnecessary as some student attended a school outside of the district (i.e., those who lived outside of the district), while others attended a school inside of the district (i.e., those who lived inside of the district).

It is worth noting on these two points that in their decision the court indicated that simple changes in the statutes by the legislature to clarify how these provisions - which were clearly intended for a brick and mortar world - would work when it comes to virtual schools. In several places the court laments about the lack of action by the legislature in dealing with this new form of schooling.

On the final issue, this appears to be where the case fell apart for the WIVA the most. In fact, the court reserved three pages for the first two questions, but took approximately the same amount of space to discuss this third issue - whether or not parent in the WIVA constituted teachers. Let me just quote from the decision...
The word “teach” is undefined in Wis. Stat. § 118.19, but DPI has promulgated a definition at Wis. Admin. Code § PI 34.01(59) (June 2004): “Teaching” means improving pupil learning by planning instruction, diagnosing learning needs, prescribing content delivery through classroom activities, assessing student learning, reporting outcomes to administrators and parents and evaluating the effects of instruction.

WIVA parents’ role found in a WIVA slide show: “fulfillment of attendance requirements, continuous progress with the K-12 curriculum, participation in regular teacher conference calls, monthly submission of student’s work samples, and participation in State testing programs.”

[WEAC argues a] WIVA parent performs activities that are undeniably teaching: leading the student through a lesson plan, answering questions and assessing student progress.

The District has nowhere disputed that a parent works one-on-one with a pupil, presenting the lesson, answering questions, and assessing progress. Instead, they simply highlight other parental tasks.

the District proposes that even if WIVA parents engage in “teaching,” the licensure statute applies only to “professional teachers”—the employees of a public school. The argument is essentially that a “teacher” is generally understood to be a professional employed to teach and, thus, the statute does not regulate WIVA’s parents, even if they serve the same role as teachers, because they are not paid.

We wish to emphasize that the issue in this case is not simply what the parents do, but what the school requires them to do in order for the school to function. We underscore that no one is suggesting that a parent assisting his or her child to whatever extent the parent finds necessary is “illegal.” The question is not whether and how a parent may assist his or her child with schoolwork; rather, it is whether the District can establish a public school, using public funds, that relies upon unlicensed individuals as the primary teachers of the pupils. The problem is not that the unlicensed WIVA parents teach their children, but that they “teach in a public school.”

we are convinced beyond doubt that the activities of the WIVA parents constitute “teaching in a public school.”
These quotes lay out the crux of the case from my own personal standpoint. I agree with the court in that the legislature should take steps to amend what it means for a school to operate and what it means for a student to attend to account for the advent of online learning.

However, on this third point I don't believe that the statute should simply be updated to accommodate the virtual school movement. If, as the court found, a school requires that parents act as teachers it should not receive the same funding as a brick and mortar school where the parents are free to help a child with their schoolwork but not required because that is the job of the teachers employed by the school.

In the same way that a parent who choses to home school their child does not receive public education funding to support their own instruction, neither should this virtual school receive the same public funding as a brick and mortar school when they require parents to teach. As the court stated: "
The question is not whether and how a parent may assist his or her child with schoolwork; rather, it is whether the District can establish a public school, using public funds, that relies upon unlicensed individuals as the primary teachers of the pupils."

Having said that, I would encourage the legislature to amend the funding formula to reflect the reality of this form of virtual schooling. By this I mean add a provision so that virtual schools where parents are required to perform the role of teachers receive a smaller per student allocation because the licensed teachers of the school are only doing a percentage of the work that would be done by a brick and mortar (or even traditional virtual school model that has developed in most states).

And this is where NACOL should invest its energies in my opinion, lobby the legislature to make these changes and not standing up for a virtual school simply because it is a virtual school.

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Series - Survey Question of the Day

It appears that Darrin over at Teaching and Developing Online has the beginnings of another series on the go.
Not sure how many there will be (and like Conference Quotes I'm not sure if it will be a complete series - I hope so as it is as interesting as the first two real series), but I'll post follow-ups as more entries as Darrin posts others.

As a reminder, there have been three previous series: Series: Why Did You Decide To Take Cyber School?, Part Two, Part Three , and Part Four; Series: Right From The Mouth Of Students and Part Two; and Conference Quotes.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Register Today for Upcoming NACOL Webinar

NACOL Monthly Webinar SeriesNACOL

January 9, 2008
2:00-3:00 PM (Eastern)

"Increasing Access and Equity in Online Courses and for Virtual Schools: A NACOL Research Committee Issues Brief"

Speakers:
Ray Rose, Rose & Smith Associates
Bob Blomeyer, Blomeyer & Clemente Consulting Services

How do we assure access and equitable enrollment in online courses?
Do your course design and selection criteria include accessibility?
Do you really know what it means when you say courses are accessible?
What are appropriate metrics for assessing your program’s compliance with equal access provisions of State and Federal legislation?

Access and equity issues have been identified as a concern by the online community for some time, but only a few online programs have begun taking action to insure access for students with disabilities or to recruit students from traditionally disadvantaged groups that may be under-represented in online courses and programs. The latest NACOL Research Committee Issues Brief was written to encourage developing a better understanding of the issues and support the virtual education community to begin working toward improving compliance with Federal and State mandates for both access and equity.

The virtual school community has contributed nationally to enriching curricular offerings by expanding enrollment options to include an increasing variety of high quality online courses. Online educators generally assume all students are equitably treated and that teaching and learning online is conducted without prejudice from race, language, or religion.

Bob and Ray have a long history of addressing issues of equity and access. This Webinar will clarify definitions and details about State and Federal statutes and regulations, and provide a forum for beginning discussions and the action planning needed to ensure the NACOL communities’ programs all begin making progress toward achieving full equity and access to online teaching and learning for all of America’s K-12 students.

Register Now

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

Registration is open until 2 PM (ET) Tuesday, January 8, 2008.

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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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blogging About Virtual Schooling

Still cleaning out that Bloglines acount... This time the topic is virtual schooling.
Until next time...

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blogging About The Next Generation

Cleaning out my Bloglines again, some items of tomorrow's students.
Until next time...

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Monday, December 17, 2007

New Article - Distance Education in Georgia's Public School Districts: Baseline Data on Utilization and the Perceived Barriers to Implementation...

I got this in my inbox a few minutes ago from the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration (OJDLA)...
Distance Education in Georgia's Public School Districts: Baseline Data on Utilization and the Perceived Barriers to Implementation and Expansion

by William Tankersley & James Burnham

Interest in distance education, particularly online education, is increasing in public school districts throughout the United States. In an effort to aid those who are involved in the planning and administration of K-12 distance education programs in Georgia, the authors sought to gather and report baseline data on the current utilization of distance education courses in Georgia’s K-12 public school districts, and to determine the perceived barriers to the implementation and expansion of distance education programs in Georgia. The authors’ findings indicated that K-12 distance education enrollments in Georgia have increased over the past five school years, and asynchronous Internet-based courses are the primary course delivery model that exists. In addition, the authors found that costs and/or funding issues were the most frequently chosen barriers to the implementation and expansion of distance education courses.
The complete article can be viewed at:


The OJDLA is an open-source, online journal that normally focuses upon an adult population (not as a matter of policy, so this is probably because they simply don't get many submissions from K-12 people). It has been around for a decade now and you can view all of the past issues at http://www.westga.edu/%7Edistance/ojdla/browsearticles.php.

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Re-Posting Comments

Not sure why she selected this entry to comment on, but we had a couple of comments from Syble on a Virtual Schooling in the Newsentry from back in January 2007 - so I wanted to re-post them here.
I enrolled my daughter in Crescent Prep Virtual High School school, paid in full over $5000.00 and the contract said that we would get a laptop, printer, plasma TV and $200.00. And her diploma.

Complaint Description: I enrolled my daughter in this school back in May of 2007. Paid the entire amount. Was promised the above items along with her education. It took until the end of August to get the laptop. We wanted to start the schooling right away. It couldnt happen because we needed the laptop. After "fighting" with Dana Williams I finally got the laptop. And still have not gotten anything else. My daughter tries to sign on to the "school" to do work and most of the time the website is down. The reason she is going to this school is so she can graduate early. She will never be able to do this when she cant get to her work. I have sent email after email and made many phone calls to the school. Spoke with Dana and was promised this and that and never any follow through on her end. I tried contacting someone else and Dana didnt like that and then my calls were not taken at all. My last email to her was that I wanted a full refund and she could have this laptop back. And once again I have not heard back from her at all. I told her in that email I would be contacting authorities. Apparently she doesnt care if I do. I have contacted BBB and she has never responded to them either. I also contacted State Government Personnel.
Resolution Sought: At this point I want a full refund.

Date Problem Started: 05/23/2007

Basically I hope you all take a good look at what you are doing BEFORE you send them any money!!
After I expressed my concern that she had to go through this ordeal, she follow-up with:
I really doubt anything will be done. But I have decided I am going to push this to the fullest capacity I can. Im hoping that I can get this resolved along with stopping others from getting "scammed" in the meantime. My next move is going to be the news media in Crescent Preps Local area.
When I Googled this virtual school, the only website that showed up appears to be another entry that she made:


I should note that Crescent Preparatory High School is located in Florida.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dept. of Ed Report - Online Learning

Last week I posted a link to an online session entitled Free Webcast on Online Learning by U.S. Department of Education - Please Attend!. I caught the last twenty-thirty minutes, but the sound didn't work for me so I had to follow the text transcript.

Yesterday, this was posted to one of the NACOL forums...
Congratulations to VHS, Florida Virtual, Colorado Online Learning and other NACOL members who are previewed in this report and who, no doubt, urged the Department of Ed to publish this report. Well written and good stats. And, a good validation of Keeping Pace (2007). See link to the report at the end of the press release.

Department of Education
FOR RELEASE: December 12, 2007, Contact: Casey Ruberg, (202) 401-1576
Guide Outlines Practices to Improve Student Access to Advanced Courses Online

U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education Morgan Brown today joined a panel of national education leaders and experts to launch Connecting Students to Advanced Courses Online, a guide for district and school administrators who are working to provide students with greater access to online advanced coursework. Panelists including Thomas Matts of the College Board, Liz Pape of Virtual High School and two high school administrators discussed a range of issues featured in the new publication, from what services to expect from online providers to how to ensure course quality. The discussion was Webcast live to hundreds of district and school administrators across the U.S.

"As we work to provide families with more educational options, Connecting Students to Advanced Courses Online offers innovative approaches for school administrators to make advanced courses more accessible to all students," said Secretary Spellings. "In our highly-competitive world, advanced courses online will help America's students prepare for college and compete in the global workforce."
According to the National Center for Education Statistic's most recent analysis, more than a quarter of high school students did not have access to advanced coursework in English, math, science and foreign languages at their home school. Only 58 percent of high school students had access to at least two advanced courses, with small rural schools offering the least opportunity to take advanced classes. At a time where 90 percent of the fastest growing jobs require at least some postsecondary education, it is critical that our nation prepare students for the rigorous coursework of college.

Today, many administrators are turning to online courses to provide a practical and effective means of delivering advanced coursework to students. Connecting Students to Advanced Courses Online examines six case studies, ranging in geographic location and organizational type, of online course providers in Lakewood, Colo. (Colorado Online Learning); Orlando, Fla. (Florida Virtual School); Iowa City, Iowa (Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy); Baltimore, Md. (Johns Hopkins University - Center for Talented Youth); Lansing, Mich. (Michigan Virtual High School); and Maynard, Mass. (Virtual High School). In each example, the provider demonstrates how implementing online classes can enrich curricula and enable a greater number of students to challenge themselves.

Connecting Students to Advanced Courses Online is available online at Connecting Students to Courses Online.

This book is one of a series of innovation guides produced by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. All books in this series are available as free downloads at Dept of Ed Innovation Guide
I'll see if I can't gander at the report over the holidays and report back on it in January. Until then, any thoughts...

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo News Alert for virtual school.

Cerro Coso to offer virtual high school
Ridgecrest Daily Independent Sun, 09 Dec 2007 2:48 AM PST
Cerro Coso Community College will be offering the Virtual High School program to juniors and seniors with a minimum 3.0 grade-point average to take courses online.

Virtual school gets new principal
Monroe Times Tue, 11 Dec 2007 10:48 AM PST
MONROE -- Northside Elementary School principal Cory Hirsbrunner will serve as interim principal of the Monroe Virtual School through June.

Waukesha ponders issues facing virtual school
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Mon, 10 Dec 2007 10:37 PM PST
Waukesha - A recent court ruling could mean some high-stakes decisions face the School District over the continued...

for Abe
Monroe Times Tue, 11 Dec 2007 10:47 AM PST
MONROE -- An appeals court ruling that put the fate of Wisconsin's virtual schools in jeopardy has dealt a blow to Monroe's charter elementary school.

Virtual charter high school on verge of connection
Newport News-Times Fri, 14 Dec 2007 12:32 PM PST
authorized by the Lincoln County Insight School of Oregon - a full-time, online, diploma-granting, public charter high schoolSchool District and governed by the local Oregon Council for Online Learning - is poised to open its virtual doors in January for spring semester.

Guest Shot: Virtual school belongs to SAU 16 taxpayers
Exeter News-Letter Fri, 14 Dec 2007 3:13 AM PST
By Jim Berlo

Virtual classroom part of leukemia treatment for 8-year-old girl
Lexington Herald-Leader Sat, 15 Dec 2007 8:46 AM PST
Emily Stapleton is 8 years old but hasn't attended school since kindergarten - a precaution her parents and doctors are taking because of her heightened susceptibility to illness after leukemia treatment. For the past few weeks, however, she has been a full participant in class, just not in person. She uses a fiber-optic connection from a small computer desk in her bedroom, which is connected to ...


Next the Yahoo News Alert for cyber school.

PA Cyber, Rodis settle
The East Liverpool Review Mon, 10 Dec 2007 9:09 PM PST
A settlement between the Midland-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and a firm which formerly managed some of its business affairs has been formally decided.

Cyberschool to pay former management company $800,000
The Beaver County Times Tue, 11 Dec 2007 2:23 AM PST
MIDLAND — The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School will shell out $800,000 to its former management company after settling a two-year dispute over the firm’s termination and compensation.

Cyber school, services firm reach settlement in lawsuit
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Tue, 11 Dec 2007 9:35 PM PST
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School board has agreed to an $800,000 settlement with Rodis LLC, which provided management services to the charter school until its contract was terminated. ...


Moving on to the Google News Alert for virtual school.

Ruling puts state's virtual schools at risk
eSchool News - Bethesda,MD,USA
Parents of virtual-school students in Wisconsin fear a court ruling puts online instruction in jeopardy. Online education programs for thousands of ...
See all stories on this topic

Parents on prowl for the best high school
Columbus Dispatch - Columbus,OH,USA
The expanded district options include a virtual high school; revamped career technical academies; specialized programs in math, technology and science; ...
See all stories on this topic

State Board of Education Lists Legislative Priorities
West Virginia MetroNews - Charleston,WV,USA
"We're trying to implement a program that would allow each student to take one virtual school class before they graduate high school. ...
See all stories on this topic

SC explores ways to teach young minds
Spartanburg Herald Journal (subscription) - Spartanburg,SC,USA
The county alternative school, for example, is seen as an option in lieu of expulsion for many students. And with virtual schools, students now can take ...
See all stories on this topic

The Docket: Court costs
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription) - Milwaukee,WI,USA
By Derrick Nunnally Things related to the courthouse get rather costly for many folks who showed up in this morning's legal news, with a virtual school ...
See all stories on this topic

Unleash online schools
Wisconsin State Journal - Madison,WI,USA
Update state laws governing public education to take advantage of the opportunities presented by online learning in virtual schools. ...
See all stories on this topic

SC explores ways to teach young minds
Spartanburg Herald Journal (subscription) - Spartanburg,SC,USA
The county alternative school, for example, is seen as an option in lieu of expulsion for many students. And with virtual schools, students now can take ...
See all stories on this topic

Group: Ruling could shut down virtual schools across state
Green Bay Press Gazette - Green Bay,WI,USA
The district opened the Wisconsin Virtual Academy in 2003 to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school requires parents to devote at least ...
See all stories on this topic

Sailing School runs aboard schooner in Fort Pierce
TCPalm - West Palm Beach,FL,USA
The vessel, developed as a virtual school on water, provides 100 marine academy students — 20 per day —with a full day of learning about the local aquatic ...
See all stories on this topic

Ruling could shut down virtual schools across Wisconsin
WBAY - Green Bay,WI,USA
The Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families says the ruling could close other online charter schools or put online learning programs on shaky legal ...
See all stories on this topic

Cerro Coso to offer virtual high school
Ridgecrest Daily Independent - Ridgecrest,CA,USA
By JOHN V. CIANI - Staff Reporter - jcianI@ridgecrestca.com Cerro Coso Community College will be offering the Virtual High School program to juniors and ...
See all stories on this topic

Appeals court: Online charter school is operating illegally
Janesville Gazette - Janesville,WI,USA
The Northern Ozaukee School District created the virtual school in 2003. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade learn from their homes over the ...
See all stories on this topic

Officials say they'll appeal virtual schools court decision
New Richmond News - New Richmond,WI,USA
The head of the Appleton virtual school -- the first in the state -- is looking to see how the case affects them.
See all stories on this topic

Appeals court rules against Ozaukee virtual school
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription) - Milwaukee,WI,USA
By AMY HETZNER A virtual school based in the Northern Ozaukee School District plans to appeal a court ruling that it violates several state laws and ask for ...
See all stories on this topic

UPDATE: Appeals court: Online charter school operating illegally
The Capital Times - Madison,WI,USA
The Northern Ozaukee School District created the virtual school in 2003. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade learn from their homes over the ...
See all stories on this topic

Online education vital for Wisconsin
UW Badger Herald - Madison,WI,USA
At issue in the case is the Wisconsin Virtual Academy — an online "virtual school" run by the Northern Ozaukee School District. ...
See all stories on this topic

Finally, the the Google News Alert for cyber school.

Mars Area ads band, classes
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Currently, students can take a cyber class in Spanish 5. "We feel that the cyber class falls short," Mrs. Odom said. "They need to be able to communicate ...
See all stories on this topic

Marshall Township girl, 10, wins a national skating title
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Leah left Bradford Woods Elementary in the North Allegheny School District and enrolled in cyber school last December. She was a straight-A student at ...
See all stories on this topic

House bill would set high standards for cyber charter school ...
Allentown Morning Call - Allentown,PA,USA
For example, all cyber charter school employees who have Internet contact with students would be required to undergo background checks. ...
See all stories on this topic

House panel oks cyberschool funding change
The Patriot-News - PennLive.com - Harrisburg,PA,USA
The rates, which have yet to be determined, would be based on the lowest tuition rate charged last year by a successful cyberschool, defined as one that met ...
See all stories on this topic

House panel weighs flat rate cyber tuition
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Since Sunday, cyber school supporters have sent lawmakers more than 10000 letters voicing their opposition to the bill, said Timothy Daniels, ...
See all stories on this topic

Carlisle school officials surprised by enrollment growth patterns
Carlisle Sentinel - Carlisle,PA,USA
The number of parochial students in the district has been decreasing, he said, with homeschoolers holding steady and the small number of cyber-charter ...
See all stories on this topic

AnalystResearchReport.com: QED Connect Provides K-12 School ...
Trading Markets (press release) - Los Angeles,CA,USA
Cyber Digital, Inc. is a leading designer and software developer of advanced distributed digital voice switches and high-performance Internet Protocol (IP) ...
See all stories on this topic

Chester board meets Monday
Madison Daily Leader - Madison,SD,USA
... and grounds information, open enrollments, Prairie Lakes Education Cooperative, cyber school, the governor's budget address and health insurance. ...
See all stories on this topic

Carlisle school officials surprised by enrollment growth patterns
Carlisle Sentinel - Carlisle,PA,USA
The number of parochial students in the district has been decreasing, he said, with homeschoolers holding steady and the small number of cyber-charter ...
See all stories on this topic

Africa: Education Ministry to Promote E-Learning
AllAfrica.com - Washington,USA
Other initiatives include the cyber school technology solution aimed at improving science teaching in secondary schools with the first phase to cover one ...
See all stories on this topic

Makerere to get $2.5m digital library
New Vision - Kampala,Uganda
Other initiatives, he disclosed, include the cyber school technology solution aimed at improving science teaching in secondary schools. ...
See all stories on this topic

Cyber School Funding Cut Passes
Evening Bulletin - Philadelphia,PA,USA
"I think we have to address the cyber school issue," said Rep. Bernie O'Neill (R-Bucks), a bill supporter. He noted that the New Hope-Solebury School ...
See all stories on this topic

'Promise' campaign to recruit charities
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Officials at private, charter and cyber schools applaud the program, predicting that the fund won't hurt enrollment at alternative schools. ...
See all stories on this topic

Bill would limit cybercharter schools
Lancaster Newspapers - Lancaster,PA,USA
HB 446 would establish a "real cost" of cyberschool tuition based on the lowest average per-pupil expenditures of cybercharter schools that achieved PSSA ...
See all stories on this topic

House panel advances cyberschool funding bill
The Patriot-News - PennLive.com - Harrisburg,PA,USA
education in Pennsylvania was approved by the House Education by JAN MURPHY, Of The Patriot-News Legislation to establish a uniform rate for a cyber school...
See all stories on this topic

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