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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Survey Of Online Learners For Doctoral Program

A request for research dealing with virtual schooling. If there are virtual school students out there or any of my readers that can help, please contact Sam directly.
Hello all

I am a doctoral student working on my dissertation at Capella University in the school of professional studies.

My dissertation is on engagement in the learning process for online high school students. Specifically I am trying to evaluate what aspects of course design engage high school students and therefore lead to more motivated learners and deeper learning.

In simpler terms, what do high school students like \ dislike in their online classes?

For my research I have developed an online survey for students to complete. The survey is completely anonymous and no personal information is collected. Students will have the opportunity to take part in a virtual focus group to finish the data collection process if they wish to.

I am looking for high school students who are currently taking or have taken online classes ( one or more) and who would be willing to complete this online survey (10-15 minutes).

You can help by forwarding this email to other educators and or students and asking them to do the same.

I am looking to survey as diverse a group of students as possible and trust that the vastness and chaos of the Internet will get this message out to lots of interested high school students.

Information about the survey and a link to the actual survey can be found at:


Time is of the essence this survey is slated to be open from Feb1, 2008 to Feb 29th, 2008

Thanks for help in spreading the word

If you have question about my research or the survey I can be contacted at samgladstein@gmail.com

Sam Gladstein
--
Sam Gladstein
IM Gladsteins@GTalk
IM Gladsteins@Yahoo
Thanks...

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Register Today for Upcoming NACOL Webinars

NACOL

Monthly Webinars for February 2008

Monthly Webinar


Teacher Talk Webinar
February 13, 2008
2:00 PM (Eastern)

"Trends, Myths, and Action in Professional Development for K-12 Online Teaching"

Register Now
Open until 2 PM (ET) the day before the webinar.
This Webinar complements two recent white papers that NACOL released on professional development at 2007 VSS last November: Going Virtual! The Status of Professional Development for K-12 Online Teachers and Professional Development for Online Schooling and Online Learning.

The Webinar will overview national trends in the professional development of K-12 online teachers and debunk common misconceptions in relation to preparing teachers to teach and facilitate K-12 online learning. This session covers the professional development continuum from pre-service through in-service to master educator.

Presenters

Niki Davis, Director of Iowa State University Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching

Lisa Dawley, Chair of the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University

Kerry Rice, Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University

February 21, 2008
6:00 PM (Eastern)

"Making Sense of Content Standards through Reconceptualization"

Register Now
Open until 3 PM (ET) the day before the webinar.

During this Webinar, we will explore what it means to reconceptualize academic content standards and how it relates to creating meaningful and engaging lessons. We will also discuss ways in which online professional learning communities can aid in this process.

Presenters

Maria Boyarko, Teacher, ECOTOH
Anita Levine, Adjunct Professor, Kent State University

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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Monday, January 28, 2008

Wisconsin's Virtual Schools Saved... For Now

That was the title of an article posted in one of the NACOL forums yesterday. The article read:
Wisconsin's virtual schools saved ... for now
School officials testifying at hearings made a difference.

Todd Beckmann
Sentinel News Editor

It was good news when Grantsburg Superintendent Joni Burgin picked up the phone Monday afternoon.

"Senator Luther Olsen, on the Senate Education Committee, called me on Monday and told me he and Senator Lehman had reached a compromise on the Senate Bill in the Senate Education Committee," Burgin said.

Earlier this month the Wisconsin Legislature set out to "fix" the statute regarding virtual schools after a Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision last December put the future of all virtual schools in doubt.

The court ruling explained the existing statutes didn't fit what the Northern Ozaukee School District did when they opened their virtual school - the Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

The so-called Lehman Bill, as proposed by Sen. John Lehman in the Senate Education Committee to fix the statute, was, in Burgin's words, a bill "for people who don't like virtual school."

The Lehman Bill is one which Burgin testified against during a hearing last week in Madison.

Insight School of Wisconsin principal Billy Beesley was a member of the Grantsburg contingent who went to Madison to oppose the Lehman Bill. Beesley and about 12 students had hoped to meet with the Governor to discuss the virtues of on-line schooling, but didn't get the chance.

While in the capital, Burgin also testified in favor of the Davis Bill.

The Davis Bill, the counterpart to the Lehman Bill, was in a hearing before author Sen. Brett Davis and the rest of the Assembly Education Committee.

The Davis Bill, a minimalist bill, just fixes the statutes to allow successful virtual schools to continue.

"I think the legislators really listened to what we had to say," Burgin said of the hearings. "Senators Lehman and Olsen met on Friday and crafted a new bill."

"I think we can all live with what they have come up with," she continued.

Beesley agreed.

We were doing things differently than the school which was sued, but I think this new bill will strengthen everybody," he said.

Olsen also told Burgin on Monday the compromise bill has the support of Sen. Davis.

"There is now a bi-partisan virtual school bill that will correct the outdated statutes and allow us to continue to operate our virtual schools. It does provide regulations but maintains funding and removed the 15 percent local attendance requirement," Burgin pointed out.

The 15 percent requirement called for that percentage of any virtual school's enrollment to be local - a restriction which would have seriously jeopardized Grantsburg's Insight School of Wisconsin.

"If all goes according to Senator Olsen's timeline, and the Governor supports the effort, the matter should be resolved by mid-February," Burgin concluded.
Now you'll notice in the article, they mention two pieces of legislation.
  1. Lehman Bill - http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2007/data/SB-396.pdf
  2. Davis Bill - http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2007/data/AB-697.pdf
So, what do these two bills actually say. [note: I've been meaning to spend some time reading both and comparing them. But I originally wrote this entry four days ago and have been sitting on it waiting to get some time to complete this so I figured today I would just post it and do the bill comparison next week sometime when I get a free moment. - MKB]

I notice today there was another item posted in the NACOL forums.
Legislators reveal new rules, to keep virtual schools open - WI

by Pedro Oliveira Jr.
Friday, January 25, 2008

Wisconsin lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan compromise Thursday that would allow virtual schools to stay online throughout the state.

The compromise comes after a December ruling by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals that said state statutes on teachers’ certification, open enrollment and charter schools were not being appropriately applied to virtual education.

The court called on legislators to regulate virtual schools in order to keep them open.

Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, said this proposal aims to allow virtual schools to operate, solidify funding sources and ensure quality of education and academic accountability.

“We know that there are families out there who are thinking about open enrollment in the next couple of weeks, and we know they’re apprehensive,” Lehman said. “We heard from many folks who are satisfied with the schools, but are apprehensive with what’s going to happen with these schools.”

Virtual schools educate nearly 3,500 Wisconsin children from kindergarten to high school. Wisconsin currently has 12 virtual charter schools in operation, and most students opted out of traditional schools because of the distance or other personal reasons, like taking advanced coursework not offered at their local school.

Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, said the legislation is currently in Gov. Jim Doyle’s office for review, and lawmakers hope it will pass in both houses by Feb. 3, when enrollment in most virtual schools begins.

If passed, the legislation would also allow for a funding of nearly $6,000 for each open-enrollment student.

“We believe the particulars of the draft are going to be very satisfactory to both houses and to the governor,” Lehman said.

Last week, more than 1,000 parents and students rallied at the Capitol to keep virtual schools open, and the issue was discussed at two public hearings.

“We hope this surge in support of online public charter schools receives the blessings of legislative leadership, that this deal is not altered and that we can move forward together,” Rose Fernandez, president of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, wrote in a statement.

Along with allowing schools to continue operation, the compromise would also require that teachers respond to student or parent inquiries within 24 hours and that virtual charter schools provide certified teachers for each course and create a parent advisory board to meet on a regular basis.

On the students’ side of the deal, truants who fail to respond appropriately to assignments or teacher-initiated contact within five schools days may be transferred to their home district after three incidents of truancy in a semester.

But the Wisconsin Education Association Council is questioning the funding for the program because it could “divert state funding away from school districts across Wisconsin.”

Christina Brey, WEAC communications coordinator, said the organization is currently analyzing the proposed legislation, but declined further comment.

“WEAC will analyze the bill on the basis of quality, accountability and its fiscal impact on all of the children in Wisconsin’s schools before deciding whether or not to support it,” the organization wrote Thursday.

The governor’s press office did not respond to a call seeking comment Thursday.
For other entries that I've written on this topic see:
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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Virtual Schooling in the UK

I've mentioned in the past that virtual schooling, as we know it, is largely a North American concept. Here's a good example of this from earlier this week in th NACOL forums.
Pupils enter virtual classroom

22 January 2008 05:32

Thousands of schoolchildren in Norfolk and Suffolk will be able to do their homework online and see their schoolwork wherever they are in the world.

Plans to extend the East Anglia's network of “virtual” classrooms means homework can be done without getting lost, and projects and written work can be built up in a secure, online location. The system can also be used to let pupils chat to each other online. There are also plans to use it to create links with schools around the world.

Norfolk has already started using the government-funded “virtual learning environments” in primary schools. Now it is expanding them into all the county's secondary schools, while Suffolk is adopting a similar idea in its schools.

Norfolk County Council has asked companies to tender for a secondary learning service, and pupils and headteachers have been involved in the selection process. It is also working with colleges and workplace training providers to come up with a system that can be used in different institutions. The primary school service is already provided by Netmedia,

Paul Fisher, assistant director for Norfolk Children's Services, said: “This will allow our learners to attend more than one institution and still hold all their learning and achievement in one online portfolio. A student at a high school might attend college one day a week and a work place for another day to achieve a diploma. This should still allow the parent to see if the pupil is attending, no matter where they are currently learning.”

Suffolk is also working on giving every child his or her own personalised online learning space by the end of this year. It will give gives pupils, teachers and other school staff the same access to their work at and away from school in any internet-ready location.

Diana Stanley, one of Suffolk County Council's e-learning managers for schools, said: “Talking to pupils was important for us and we were keen to let pupils test it. We felt it was key to know whether pupils found a system easy to use, whether they felt it was cool and whether they would be prepared to use it outside school.”

Brian Podmore, another of the council's e-learning managers, said: “The platform will give pupils the chance to use it as a network and chat to each other online. But this is not like MySpace, Bebo or Facebook, it's far more secure, it's designed to be used for learning and it should bring real advantages for those children who will use it.”
A good example of extending the traditional classroom, but not quite virtual schooling.

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Virtual Schooling in the News

Beginning with the Yahoo! News alert for virtual school.

Online info sessions set for virtual public school
The Appleton Post-Crescent Sun, 20 Jan 2008 2:26 AM PST
APPLETON Parents of students seeking an online education can learn more about Wisconsin Connections Academy by logging on to one of 11 online sessions this month and next, starting Tuesday.

State says virtual school needs more study
The World Tue, 22 Jan 2008 11:10 AM PST
SALEM — Concerns about transparency and use of public funds may further delay the North Bend School District’s plan to establish a virtual school that would cater to students throughout Oregon.

State says virtual school needs more study
The World Tue, 22 Jan 2008 3:27 PM PST
SALEM — Concerns about transparency and use of public funds may further delay the North Bend School District’s plan to establish a virtual school that would cater to students throughout Oregon.

Positive news for virtual schools
Inter-County Leader Wed, 23 Jan 2008 12:57 PM PST
GRANTSBURG – Grantsburg Schools Superintendent Joni Burgin said the news is good for the district’s Insight School and all of Wisconsin’s virtual schools.

Virtual Ed Link Management Addresses 2008 Plans
Marketwire via Yahoo! Finance Wed, 23 Jan 2008 5:00 AM PST
Virtual Ed Link, Inc., marketer of the most advanced and comprehensive web-based School Safety Management System, is pleased to report on their management's 2008 plans with a focus on the market opportunities, product readiness, strategic alliances, revenue projections, and capital formation.


Insight School of Oregon Opens Virtual Doors to Students
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance Thu, 24 Jan 2008 1:05 PM PST
This week, hundreds of students will go online to participate in orientation sessions with Insight School of Oregon, Oregon's new online high school.

Legislators reach deal on online school funding
Fond du Lac Reporter Thu, 24 Jan 2008 11:58 AM PST
MADISON Wisconsin lawmakers have reached a tentative compromise on a plan that would allow virtual schools to remain open and receive the same amount of money from the state.

Doyle comments on virual school agreement
WBAY Green Bay Thu, 24 Jan 2008 10:41 AM PST
Associated Press - January 24, 2008 1:35 PM ET MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Lawmakers say they have a tentative agreement that would keep virtual schools open in Wisconsin.

Doyle comments on virual school agreement
WKBT La Crosse Thu, 24 Jan 2008 10:38 AM PST
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Lawmakers say they have a tentative agreement that would keep virtual schools open in Wisconsin. Governor Doyle, in Milwaukee today, says he's confident that if Democratic Senator John Lehman is agreeing to the compromise, he's probably going to support it.

Wis. lawmakers announce deal to keep virtual schools open
WKBT La Crosse Thu, 24 Jan 2008 2:53 PM PST
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Virtual schools would remain open under new regulations in a compromise announced by Wisconsin lawmakers today. A court ruling had threatened to close a dozen Wisconsin virtual schools starting as early as next school year.

Corporate Partner Supports Students' Online Test Preparation Needs
PR Newswire via Yahoo! News Fri, 25 Jan 2008 11:35 AM PST
Michigan high school students will benefit as a result of unexpected support from a corporate partner. Since 2001, the Michigan Virtual University(R) (MVU(R)) has provided no-cost test preparation materials for the state assessment examinations, the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) and its predecessor the MEAP, and, to date, has served over 150,000 students.

Virtual High School
WCAX-TV Vermont Fri, 25 Jan 2008 3:28 PM PST
Students at Burlington High School can now take courses from teachers who live halfway around the world, without ever stepping foot outside of Vermont.


Next the Yahoo! News alert for cyber school.

Business provides alternative to charter schools in Penn Hills
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Wed, 23 Jan 2008 9:12 PM PST
A private company has come up with a way for the Penn Hills School District to offer its students cyber education without signing up for one of the state's cyber charter schools.

Cyber high proposed in Seymour
Connecticut Post Fri, 25 Jan 2008 9:03 PM PST
SEYMOUR — Online classes have been standard in colleges for years, and now high school students here may soon be logging on to the Internet for classes for the first time.


Moving on to the Google News alert for virtual school.

Madison weekly
Green Bay Press Gazette - Green Bay,WI,USA
"This is life and death for us," said Rose Fernandez, president of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families. "This is it, today. ...
See all stories on this topic

Virtual High School
Danbury News Times - Danbury,CT,USA
The schools will take part in a pilot program called Connecticut Virtual High School, which will be useful in resolving a scheduling conflict, ...
See all stories on this topic

Online info sessions set for virtual public school
Appleton Post Crescent - WI, USA
WCA, an Appleton charter school, is the state's first virtual public school for kindergarten through grade eight. Other hour-long online information ...
See all stories on this topic

The Debate Over Virtual Schools
Mother Jones - San Francisco,CA,USA
A Wisconsin superintendent praised the virtual school program for better serving kids with learning challenges, medical conditions, and special needs, ...
See all stories on this topic

Ruling threatens computer-based virtual schools
London Free Press - Canada
By AP CROSS PLAINS, WISCONSIN -- School districts across the United States are watching a court ruling that challenges the existence of virtual schools and ...
See all stories on this topic

Democrat says schools that offer virtual schools swimming in cash
New Richmond News - New Richmond,WI,USA
Fifteen percent of a virtual school’s students would have to be from the sponsoring district. And it would cap the state aid at about $3000 per student ...
See all stories on this topic


Derry in line for new federated school
Derry Journal - Derry,Northern Ireland,UK
This is way above the state school average.” Mr. Dore says the new Derry school will include ’virtual classrooms’. “There are various teaching arrangements ...
See all stories on this topic

MMSD wants to flush suit
OnMilwaukee.com - Milwaukee,USA
Education Virtually: There was a lot of virtual reality going in the state capitol this week. Two full days of hearings regarding virtual school regulation ...
See all stories on this topic

Online School
Daytona Beach News-Journal - Daytona Beach,FL,USA
Laykin had just started taking online classes through the Florida Virtual School to catch up on credits needed for graduation, and she couldn't afford to ...
See all stories on this topic

Finally, the Google News alert for cyber school.

Business director hired for Penn Hills schools
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
The board heard a presentation by VLN Partners, a distance learning firm, regarding services that would enable the district to offer its own cyber school ...
See all stories on this topic

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Friday, January 25, 2008

PBS - Growing Up Online

Apparently PBS did this show earlier this week entitled "Growing Up Online". Here are a couple of entries that I've seen on the show:
If you know of others, just post them here.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Online PE

Another one of these things I probably got because I left a business card at someone's both at the Virtual School Symposium.

Banner


biking

2008 Course Offerings

Health Science
Health & Personal Wellness
Exercise Science
Nutrition
Life Skills

Physical Education
Fitness Fundamentals I
Fitness Fundamentals II
Walking Fitness
Running
Strength Training
Flexibility Training
Credit Recovery PE
Student Athlete I
Middle School PE

Online PE?

Absolutely!

Not only does it work, but this individualized and peronalized health and physical education program enables students to pursue a healthy lifestyle long after class is over!

  • Courses align to state and national standards.
  • Each course = .5 carnegie units.
  • Engaging multimedia lessons, objective-based. assignments, and comprehensive assessments.
  • Students learn and apply the fundamental principles of health and fitness.
  • Students can tailor each program to meet their own needs, interests, and fitness level.

www.caronefitness.com

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Find out how you can use The Personal Fitness Suite™ in your program!

Information Request Form

Contact Us Directly At
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info@caronefitness.com


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Would love to hear from someone who may be using this or another similar program.

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Blogging About The Next Generation

Yesterday we had a bunch of entries about virtual schooling, today some ideas about the next generation and their needs.
BTW, if you know of some blogs that I generally don't monitor (i.e., that I never include in these blogging about... entries), please post them as a comment to this entry so that I can add them to my Bloglines.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blogging About Virtual Schooling

Well, it was prior to Christmas the last time I did this, so it is time to clean out the old Bloglines account again. Beginning with entries about virtual schooling.
Until next time...

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Opening Discussion

This will be the last message that I will re-post from what I expect will be a lively discussion. This is Dr. Reeves', the author of this week's discussion paper, first message to the discussion.

Hi Bev,

Thank you for kicking off the discussion of my paper titled “Do Generational Differences Matter in Instructional Design?” Let me remind participants in this discussion that this paper reports my review of the literature concerning generational differences and instructional design, not my own opinions about the importance of generational differences in education and training.

The bottom line of my analysis of the existing literature is that the generational differences “research” is quite weak (based largely on dubious surveys) and that this research provides an inadequate basis for differential instructional designs or the use of alternative training delivery systems for different generations. That said, there are people in the industry who are convinced that things like virtual reality and multiplayer online games have enormous potential for training and educating the “Net Generation” (i.e., those born from 1981-2000). It is an appealing notion, but not one that has sufficient substantive research underpinning it.Â

As your comments indicate, Bev, the important thing for instructional designers to remember is that any project we undertake is only as good as the needs assessment, learner analysis, and other front end analytical activities that we conduct. We cannot afford to abandon our most important tools under the assumption that “Oh wow, my workers are mostly from the Net Generation, so I need to develop an interactive gaming environment for them.”

Are the people investing heavily in training games and simulations making a mistake? No, as long as they have done an adequate analysis of their target audience. I hope that the U.S. Army has done such an analysis because they have spent millions developing an advanced video game to attract new recruits. According to the official website for the “America’s Army” game (http://www.goarmy.com/aarmy/index.jsp): “America's Army provides civilians with an inside perspective and a virtual role in today's premier land force: the U.S. Army. The game is designed to provide an accurate portrayal of Soldier experiences. The game is an entertaining way for young adults to be educated about the U.S. Army and see some of the career opportunities available to Soldiers in the U.S. Army — all this as a virtual Soldier. America's Army emphasizes teamwork, values and responsibility as means to achieving the goals.”

The U.S. Armed Forces are also developing sophisticated interactive simulations for the what they view as the unique training requirements of 21st Century warfare. For example, Verton (2005) describes how the Department of Defense is investing millions of dollars in efforts to develop highly realistic battlefield simulations to train troops for the types of urban fighting that they will increasingly face in countries like Iraq. These simulations are being developed for what is known as “fourth generation warfare” in which enemies are embedded with civilians and there is no clear cut frontline.

Fuhr (2005) reported that the U.S. military services are requesting industry and academia to engage in advanced research and development related to 3D visualization for training simulations. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is also investing in high fidelity training simulations to train first responders such as police, emergency medical personnel, and fire fighters. Clearly, some people believe that there is a future in games and simulation. Personally, I agree, but I am concerned that corporations, government agencies, and others are not investing in the right kinds of research and development efforts.

Bev, you expressed concern about the lack of attention to the unique needs of Baby Boomers. There certainly are plenty of us still in the workplace, but more and more of us are retiring everyday. (This trend may slow if stock portfolios continue to shrink!) Baby Boomers possess a huge proportion of the expertise in today’s workplace, and I think we need to pay much more attention to how that knowledge is going to be managed and handed off to the Gen X and Gen Y workers. This is another area where much more research and development must be done. We cannot afford to lose the hard-earned knowledge, skills, attitudes, and drive of the Baby Boomer generation. (I must confess to some degree of self-interest here….I am a Baby Boomer….born in 1947.)

Fuhr, J. (2005). JFCOM wants “more advanced” visualizations. Military Training Technology Online. Retrieved May 23, 2006, from http://www.military-training-technology.com/

Verton, D. (2005). Simulating Fallujah: Graphics engines, supercomputers, and real gunpowder. Computerworld. Retrieved May 3, 2006, from http://www.computerworld.com
Again, to join the discussion:
The easiest way to subscribe is to go to this page:

http://www.listserv.uga.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=itforum&A=1

Or to subscribe to ITForum by email send an email to:

listserv@listserv.uga.edu

In the body of the message type:

SUBSCRIBE ITFORUM Firstname Lastname

I hope to see you there...

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The Discussion Begin - The Next Generation

Last week I reported about an online discussion that was going to be held on the ITForum listserve (see The Next Generation). Well, today begins the discussion and the initial message has been posted by the listserve's moderator:
Discussion Week- First Questions Thoughts

Well..after reading the paper, I have decided that if the GenXers are going to be considered technological dinosaurs, then I must be prehistoric sludge ! :).

As I read through the paper, the one thing that struck me most was the feeling that there is really no training being planned or considered for the Boomers and maybe just a little more for the GenX. It is mostly about the younger generations and that indicates a basic underlying problem with our throw away society. Is someone no longer considered useful and needing training for improving present or future skills, volunteer work, etc just because they don't care to indulge in games that might be considered an escape from rather than a confrontation of issues of the day? The paper did not mention one thing I could find about designing for the Boomer age group/range as compared to the game groups in the current business world state.

I have been doing some research lately into the transfer of training issue and this paper seems to promote the idea of spending millions on gaming training, because that is what it will cost to constantly develop games with no proof that it will yield any better results and for less expense or more effective instruction. Is there really any proof that gaming is any better than movies, educational tv, cbt, wbt, elearning, mlearning and all of the other technological "hurrays" that have gone through the educational/training systems? The cost and time of designing such training in a rapidly changing environment would be astronomical. Why should there be such an emphasis on adrenalin/stress promoting training design as this paper mentions in order to "keep up the pace"?

Training design should always be contextual and it can be engaging, but "fun" is not a requirement. Motivation involves many things and enjoyable does not necessarily mean "fun" and there is considerable difference about what one might consider "fun".

There are two or three things that stick out most in my mind. One is that there a definite bias towards promoting the younger generations when thinking that training should involve games, there is little or no mention of gender differences in the "game" design issue and there is a definite bias against the SES futures of those who cannot afford the education and training to be included in the literature/surveys. Is gaming really the way to promote knowledge/training for this group of people who may not be able to afford a computer, have limited access even in school and yet would be expected to have "gaming" skills for training purposes/design? What happened to learner analysis?
Again, to join ITForum and become part of the discussion, you can:
The easiest way to subscribe is to go to this page:

http://www.listserv.uga.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=itforum&A=1

Or to subscribe to ITForum by email send an email to:

listserv@listserv.uga.edu

In the body of the message type:

SUBSCRIBE ITFORUM Firstname Lastname

I hope to see you there...

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Interesting Findings On Charter Schools

While not specifically speaking to cyber charter schools, this looks to be an interesting article.
Disparities in charter school resources - the influence of state policy and community

Authors: Edward Bodine a; Bruce Fuller a; María-Fernanda González a; Luis Huerta b; Sandra Naughton a; Sandra Park a; Laik Woon Teh a

Affiliations:
a University of California, Berkeley; b Teachers College, Columbia University

DOI
: 10.1080/02680930701625262

Published in
: Journal of Education Policy, Volume 23, Issue 1 - January 2008 , pages 1 - 33

Abstract: Recent findings show that students attending charter schools in the United States achieve at comparable or lower levels to those enrolled in regular public schools, perhaps due to uneven quality and disparities in the levels of resources acquired by charter schools. But little is known as to what state and local factors contribute to disparate levels of resources in the charter school sector. This article examines how local context, the charter school's organizational form, and state policies may influence material and human resources obtained by charter schools and their capacity to innovate. We find marked differences among charter schools situated in different US states in terms of teacher qualities, student-staff ratios, length of the school day, and the propensity to unionize, drawing on data from the US Schools and Staffing Survey for the 1999/2000 school year. Charter schools rely less on uncredentialed teachers in states that more tightly regulate the sector, and state spending is associated with more equal teacher salaries among charter schools within states. But the lion's share of variance in charter school resources is attributable to highly variable local contexts, not to state-level factors, especially the kinds of students served and the school's organizational form. Charter schools serving predominately black students rely on less experienced teachers who are more likely to be uncredentialed; their teachers also report more demanding working conditions and lower levels of efficacy, compared with charter teachers working in white schools. Conversion charter schools pay staff over $5100 more annually and rely much less on uncredentialed and part-time teachers than do start-up schools. We examine implications for the reproduction of unequal student achievement within the charter school sector.
This just showed up in my inbox, so I haven't had a chance to read it myself. But if you do, let me know what you think.

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Speaking of Wisconsin - Supernanny

While I'll be honest and say hat I haven't watched this episode, this entry that appeared in my Bloglines last week alerted me to this...
Critics take aim at virtual schooling after Kaukauna 'Supernanny' episode - Kathy Walsh Nufer, Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
By Ray from Online Learning Update

The nature of the online learning courses taken by two Kaukauna girls featured with their family on the TV show "Supernanny" has ignited debate in the Fox Cities over the quality of their education. The show, which aired Jan. 2 on ABC, spurred volumes of criticism of the family on ABC's Web site and in Post-Crescent online forums. It showed the girls, ages 17 and 15, describing the high school...
Like I say, I haven't watched the episode myself. But if you want to I see that someone (thanks frshholygrailzEGO) has put the video on YouTube in five separate segments.
Based upon the comments that I have read, I think that this is an example of cyber schooling (as opposed to virtual schooling - see A Need for a Common Language for the distinction).

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Focus on Wisconsin

So, most of the Virtual Schooling in the News weekly feature this week dealt with the issue of the charter cyber schools in Wisconsin (and notice how most stories called them virtual schools - see A Need for a Common Language). Anyway, here are two items posted in the NACOL forums about the issue.
Wisconsin at center of national debate over virtual schools

By RYAN J. FOLEY | Associated Press Writer

CROSS PLAINS, Wis. — Seventh grader Marcy Thompson is caught in the middle of a national policy debate that could close her school and help determine the future of online education.

Thompson is one of a growing number of students nationwide trading home schooling and public schools for virtual ones where licensed teachers oversee her progress from afar.

She is enrolled in the Wisconsin Virtual Academy, a charter school based north of Milwaukee, but spends her days 130 miles away at home studying everything from literature to algebra under her mother’s guidance and a curriculum provided by the school district.

Supporters say virtual schools are an innovative educational option that works better for some students and is a godsend for parents who prefer their children learn from home.

But critics, including the nation’s largest teacher’s union, say the so-called cyber charter schools amount to little more than home schooling at taxpayers’ expense. They complain they take away money from traditional public schools and profit companies who sell curricula to districts.

Wisconsin is at the center of the debate after an appeals court in December ordered the state to stop funding the Wisconsin Virtual Academy, the state’s largest virtual school with 800 students.

The ruling was the first of its kind in the nation and has triggered a debate among lawmakers over how the schools should be funded and regulated. The schools’ supporters are preparing to fight one plan they say would cripple them in Wisconsin.

Observers say the outcome could help shape other states’ laws, either restricting or encouraging the schools’ growth.

“People are paying attention because online learning is really a growing phenomenon,” said Susan Patrick, president of the North American Council for Online Learning, a trade association for online learning. “And for us to arbitrarily shut down online learning for students is a really dangerous precedent to set.”

Virtual schools operate in 18 states from Colorado to Pennsylvania and enroll more than 90,000 students, according to the Virginia-based council.

They generally require parents to lead daily lessons provided by the school districts that run them. Licensed teachers monitor students’ progress through e-mails, online classes and tutoring.

But students have textbooks and do not spend their whole day in front of a computer. Thompson does homework, logs online for interactive classes about once a week and is a member of a math club that meets in person.

Still, Barbara Stein of the National Education Association, the teacher’s union, objected to the use of tax dollars to support what she called a new form of home schooling.

“The issue is whether a program where you don’t have licensed educators and where you don’t have students working directly with other students should be getting fully funded as though it were a quality educational experience,” she said.

Siding with a Wisconsin teacher’s union, the appeals court ruled the school was violating Wisconsin’s open enrollment, charter school and teacher licensing laws.

The court found parents were the primary educators — a violation of a state law requiring public school teachers to be licensed. And districts who operate schools cannot receive taxpayer money for students who do not attend school within their boundaries under current law, the court said.

Its logic could be applied to schools that enroll 3,000 students statewide, potentially shutting them down. Thompson’s school, which would be the first to close, will at least finish this school year while the ruling is appealed.

Thompson, 12, cried when she heard about the ruling. Now she is writing lawmakers to urge them to keep her school open in an essay called: “Why I Love My School.” She was home schooled through second grade but has attended the Wisconsin Virtual Academy since it opened five years ago.

She and her mother say the school’s curriculum, teachers who are specialists in subjects and interaction with other students are all preferable to home schooling.

“It’s a great education option for lots and lots and lots of people and they need to save it,” Thompson said before logging on to her computer for a lesson on Newton’s law.

Lawmakers of both parties say they want to keep the schools open but so far can’t agree on the details.

Democrats who control the Senate and the education superintendent are backing a plan that would cut the schools’ funding from $6,000 per student to $3,000. That’s compared to $11,000 for public school students.

Districts and advocates say virtual schools could not survive on that little money.

But Sen. John Lehman, a Racine Democrat and former high school teacher, said his plan would only mean less profit for companies like K12 Inc., a Virginia-based company that provides curriculum to online schools in 17 states.

His critics say it’s unfair to single out the company when textbook publishers, food vendors and busing companies profit from traditional schools.

K12 Inc. vice president Jeff Kwitowski said Lehman’s proposal would make Wisconsin unique in refusing to embrace online learning.

“Cutting the funding will impact the teachers and the kids far more than it would impact our company,” Kwitowski said.

His company and Republicans who control the Assembly are backing a competing bill that would change state law to allow the schools to stay open with few, if any, changes. Hundreds of students and parents are expected to rally in support of the plan at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Rep. Brett Davis, a Republican sponsor, said Wisconsin has the chance to become a national leader in online learning.

“The bottom line is it’s time to modernize education laws in Wisconsin,” Davis said. “We have these great virtual schools that are doing well. I think we’ve become a model for the country to look at but Sen. Lehman’s proposal would send us backward.”
Second...
U.S. Court ruling threatens the future of computer-based virtual schools
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CROSS PLAINS, Wisconsin - School districts across the United States are watching a court ruling that challenges the existence of virtual schools and could determine the future of online education.

The ruling is the first of its kind in the U.S. It placed the Wisconsin Virtual Academy at the centre of a national policy debate after critics raised a key question: Do virtual schools amount to little more than home schooling at taxpayer expense?

Virtual schools operate in 18 states, says the North American Council for Online Learning, a trade association.

More than 90,000 students from kindergarten through high school are enrolled in virtual schools nationwide.

Supporters say the schools are a big help for parents who prefer their children learn from home.

Opponents, including the largest U.S. teachers' union, insist the cyber charter schools drain money away from traditional schools.

"People are paying attention because online learning is really a growing phenomenon," said Susan Patrick, president of the North American Council for Online Learning.

"And for us to arbitrarily shut down online learning for students is a really dangerous precedent to set."

Virtual schools generally require parents to lead daily lessons. Licensed teachers monitor students' progress through e-mails, online classes and tutoring.

Last month, an appeals court ordered Wisconsin to stop funding the academy, ruling that parents were the primary educators - a violation of a state law requiring public school teachers to be licensed.

And, the panel said, districts that operate virtual schools cannot receive taxpayer money for students who don't attend classes within their boundaries.

The decision could shut down other Wisconsin virtual schools, which are used by 3,000 students.

Barbara Stein of the National Education Association, the teachers' union, says she objects to the use of tax dollars to support what she called a new form of home schooling.

"The issue is whether a program where you don't have licensed educators and where you don't have students working directly with other students should be getting fully funded as though it were a quality educational experience," she said.

Politicians from both political parties say they want to keep the virtual schools open, but they have been unable to agree on the details.

Republican state Representative Brett Davis said Wisconsin has the chance to become a national leader in online learning.

"The bottom line is it's time to modernize education laws in Wisconsin," Davis said. "We have these great virtual schools that are doing well. I think we've become a model for the country to look at."
From the blogsphere, here are some items that appeared in my Bloglines about the Wisconsin issue.
And you all know how I feel about this... See:
All again for now.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Virtual Schooling in the News

Lots of unregular sources this week, beginning with the ASCD SmartBrief.

Supporters beg Wisconsin legislators to save virtual schools
Parents, students and advocates of Wisconsin's 12 online schools packed a legislative hearing room in the state's Capitol building Wednesday to ask for a reprieve from a December appeals court ruling that would withhold millions in state taxpayer funding. "This is life and death for us," Rose Fernandez, Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families president, told lawmakers. "If you don't help us, these schools will close." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (1/16) , The Washington Post/Associated Press (1/16)

Next the DEC Weekly News.

Distance Education In Georgia’s Public School Districts: Baseline Data On Utilization And The Perceived Barriers To Implementation And Expansion
Source: Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration
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.
http://www.distance-educator.com/dnews/Article15723.phtml

Wisconsin's Largest Online High School Gears Up For Open Enrollment
Source: earthtimes.org
Wisconsin's largest online high school, iQ Academy, is kicking off a series of open houses across the state this January in preparation for open enrollment season taking place February 4 - 22, 2008. Each year, Wisconsin students have the opportunity to enroll in other public schools outside their home district.
http://www.distance-educator.com/dnews/Article15721.phtml


Now the regular the Yahoo! News alert for virtual school.

Waiver delays NB's virtual school concept
The World Sat, 12 Jan 2008 8:26 AM PST
NORTH BEND — The North Bend School District wants to become the second district in Oregon to establish a virtual charter school catering to students throughout the state. Designed by K12 Inc., an established Web-based curriculum company in Virginia, the Oregon Virtual Academy’s structure and curriculum would give students an educational alternative freeing them from the confines of ...

Burmaster gives statement on proposed virtual charter school legislation
Stevens Point Journal Fri, 11 Jan 2008 1:31 PM PST
State superintendent Elizabth Burmaster issued a statement on the potential legislation regarding virtual charter schools throughout the state. This bill provides a legislative solution for the students, parents and educators of virtual charter schools and the citizens of Wisconsin, she stated. We look forward to prompt passage this session of legislation that addresses virtual education policy ...

Virtual Classrooms
WCBI Columbus Mon, 14 Jan 2008 6:16 PM PST
Trey Doherty may be in class but he'll never meet his English teacher and he doesn't have to sit in a traditional classroom . Doherty, a Nettleton High School senior is taking Advanced Placement English just by logging in to his virtual classroom.

Challenge to Midwest virtual school may have ripple effect
The Pantagraph Wed, 16 Jan 2008 11:10 AM PST
NEW 12:55 p.m. CROSS PLAINS, Wis. -- Seventh-grader Marcy Thompson cried when she heard that a court had ordered the state to stop funding the virtual school she has attended for the last five years.

Grantsburg School District awaits outcome of virtual school legislation
Inter-County Leader Wed, 16 Jan 2008 11:41 AM PST
Priscilla Bauer 16.JAN.08 GRANTSBURG - The Grantsburg School Board met in closed session with legal counsel after their regular monthly board meeting Monday night to discuss and then approve joining with other districts operating online schools in filing a friends-of-the-court Amicus Brief.

Court ruling threatens virtual schools
The Charlotte Observer Wed, 16 Jan 2008 10:43 AM PST
Seventh-grader Marcy Thompson cried when she heard that a court had ordered the state to stop funding the virtual school she has attended for the last five years. The ruling, the first of its kind in the U.S., placed the Wisconsin Virtual Academy at the center of a national policy debate after critics raised a key question: Do virtual schools amount to little more than home schooling at taxpayer ...

U.S. Court ruling threatens the future of computer-based virtual schools
The Canadian Press via Yahoo! Canada News Wed, 16 Jan 2008 11:23 AM PST
CROSS PLAINS, Wisconsin - School districts across the United States are watching a court ruling that challenges the existence of virtual schools and could determine the future of online education.

New bill would keep virtual schools open
Inter-County Leader Wed, 16 Jan 2008 11:41 AM PST
MADISON - Last week, state education officials applauded a new bill that would keep virtual schools open. But the principal of Wisconsin’s largest virtual school says state Sen. John Lehman’s measure would “destroy” online learning across the state.

Cleveland: Police Investigate Bomb Threat at Charter School
19 Action News Cleveland Wed, 16 Jan 2008 11:54 AM PST
UPDATE: Cleveland, OH - New developments about a bomb threat at Cleveland's Virtual Schoolhouse. 19 Action News has learned the charter school went into lockdown mode after a student threatened to bring a bomb to school.

Wisconsin at center of debate over virtual schools
Marshfield News Herald Wed, 16 Jan 2008 6:04 AM PST
CROSS PLAINS Seventh grader Marcy Thompson is caught in the middle of a national policy debate that could close her school and help determine the future of online education. Thompson is one of a growing number of students nationwide trading home schooling and public schools for virtual ones where licensed teachers oversee her progress from afar. She is enrolled in the Wisconsin Virtual Academy, ...

Waukesha delegation fighting for virtual schools
Greater Milwaukee Today Wed, 16 Jan 2008 5:55 AM PST
WAUKESHA - In an effort to try and save virtual education in Wisconsin, a delegation of parents, students and school district leaders from Waukesha plans to converge today with hundreds of other state residents on Madison to voice support for legislation that would overturn a recent court of appeals ruling in Ozaukee County.

Hundreds of Wis. students ask lawmakers to save virtual schools
WKBT La Crosse Wed, 16 Jan 2008 10:53 AM PST
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Hundreds of students and their parents are rallying at the Capitol in an effort to keep virtual schools open in Wisconsin. They want lawmakers to respond to a court ruling that threatens to close the state's largest virtual school and others like it.

Challenge to Midwest virtual school may have ripple effect
The Pantagraph Thu, 17 Jan 2008 4:40 AM PST
CROSS PLAINS, Wis. -- Seventh-grader Marcy Thompson cried when she heard that a court had ordered the state to stop funding the virtual school she has attended for the last five years.

Dueling Virtual School Bills
Shepherd Express Wed, 16 Jan 2008 6:31 PM PST
Should taxpayers foot the bill for a public school system that doesn't require its teachers to hold a license, can accept students from other states and boosts the revenue of an out-of-state corporation? That could happen if Assembly Republicans and virtual school advocates get their way.

Virtual school future threatened
Honolulu Advertiser Thu, 17 Jan 2008 4:21 AM PST
A federal appeals court, in the first ruling of its kind in the U.S., has ordered the state of Wisconsin to stop funding a "virtual academy" that allowed children to learn from home.

Virtual School Battle
WXOW 19 La Crosse Wed, 16 Jan 2008 4:26 PM PST
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Hundreds of students and their parents are rallying at the Capitol in an effort to keep virtual schools open in Wisconsin.

Ruling threatens virtual schools
Daily Gleaner Thu, 17 Jan 2008 2:03 AM PST
School districts across the United States are watching a court ruling that challenges the existence of virtual schools and could determine the future of online education.

Rally cheers for online schools
The Capital Times Thu, 17 Jan 2008 9:37 AM PST
An estimated crowd of more than 1,000 children, parents, teachers and other supporters of online public schools took their case to the State Capitol on Wednesday. Wearing chartreuse T-shirts that read, "Please Don't Close My Great Public Virtual School!," the multigenerational throng rallied prior to a hearing on an Assembly bill sponsored by Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, that would allow online ...

Virtual-school cuts debated
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thu, 17 Jan 2008 10:55 PM PST
Madison - A key senator Thursday defended his plan to cut state aid for virtual-school students by about half, saying he fears such payments have profited school districts that offer online instruction.

Virtual schools threatened by court ruling
MSNBC Thu, 17 Jan 2008 6:08 PM PST
Seventh-grader Marcy Thompson cried when she heard that a court had ordered the state to stop funding the virtual school she has attended for the last five years.

Online School
Daytona Beach News-Journal Fri, 18 Jan 2008 1:18 AM PST
By LINDA TRIMBLE, Education Writer Laykin had just started taking online classes through the Florida Virtual School to catch up on credits needed for graduation, and she couldn't afford to take time off while her family vacationed in Flagler Beach. Finished with her summer courses, Laykin now supplements her classes at Taylor High School by taking additional courses ranging from marine science ...

Charter school boom hits district's budget
The Philadelphia Inquirer Thu, 17 Jan 2008 10:31 PM PST
The Philadelphia School District is experiencing a boom in charter school enrollment - nearly a 50 percent larger increase in students than it had budgeted for - and a large chunk of them are in cyber charters, district officials said yesterday.


Next the Yahoo! News alert for cyber school.

School board mulls offer to start own cyber charter
Penn Hills Progress Wed, 16 Jan 2008 9:10 AM PST
Penn Hills School District is considering claiming a piece of the pie for cyber charter school education. read more »

Valley West hopes to limit cyber school funding
The Citizens' Voice Thu, 17 Jan 2008 5:50 AM PST
KINGSTON — The Wyoming Valley West School Board on Wednesday urged the community to contact their legislators in support of a bill that would shift the cost of cyber charter schools from local districts to the commonwealth.


Moving on to the Google News alert for virtual school.

Editorial: Virtual schools questionable recipients of public dollars
The Tomah Journal - Tomah,WI,USA
Parents who choose traditional home schooling don’t get open-enrollment reimbursement, so why should parents who choose a virtual school be any different? ...
See all stories on this topic

Waiver delays NB's virtual school concept
Coos Bay World - Coos Bay,OR,USA
World Photo by Lou Sennick By Alexander Rich, Staff Writer It was a unanimous decision by the North Bend School Board to charter a new virtual school, ...
See all stories on this topic

What Will the New Year Bring?
Education World - Wallingford,CT,USA
Our county also will be providing instruction online through the St. Johns Virtual School. The variety of courses students will be able to take online range ...
See all stories on this topic

Madison School Board to set spring election date
Madison Daily Leader - Madison,SD,USA
The first reading of a policy concerning participation in a virtual high school accredited by the state Department of Education. ...
See all stories on this topic

Finally, the Google News alert for cyber school.

Student: Lillian Abraham
Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA
Abraham enrolled in the cyber school, which has nearly 8000 students statewide in kindergarten through 12th grade, in September 2006, after giving birth to ...
See all stories on this topic

Bermudian Springs facing tax hike
The Evening Sun - Hanover,PA,USA
Cyber school enrollments have also increased by 50 percent which means Bermudian needs another 0.53 mills to pay the extra $115000 due for cyber students. ...
See all stories on this topic

School goes on
Camrose Canadian - Alberta, Canada
“Even East Central Catholic operates a cyber-school that registers kids from anywhere,” Diachuk said. “We wouldn’t want them to lose any time if they are ...
See all stories on this topic

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