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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Research - Exploding Online Enrollment & Students' Civic Involvement

This press released article was posted in one of the NACOL forums describing some up-coming or, rather, on-going research.
LU professor interested in 'exploding' enrollment, Survey looks at students' civic involvement

Posted January 7, 2008

LU professor interested in 'exploding' enrollment in online schools

Survey looks at students' civic involvement

By Kathy Walsh Nufer
Post-Crescent staff writer


APPLETON — Lawrence University government professor Arnold Shober wants to learn more about why elementary and secondary students choose online schooling and how it affects their potential for community involvement.

Shober, who has asked the Appleton Area School District for permission to survey students attending Wisconsin Connections Academy, a K-8 virtual school based in the district's Morgan Building, and Appleton eSchool, an online high school based at Appleton East High School, explained his plans to the Board of Education's programs and services panel Friday.

The committee endorsed his idea for board approval later this month.

Shober said he became interested in charter schools as they "exploded" in numbers — 14 this year in Appleton — over the last decade.

"Virtual schools are even more interesting to me because going to school by computer is fairly new, especially at the K-12 level," he said.

His main question, he said, is what the likelihood is that these students will become civically engaged in their communities down the road.

"The stereotype is that they are isolated from the world, but that's not necessarily the case," he said.

Shober said he would like to include Wisconsin Virtual Academy Northern Ozaukee County's virtual school in the survey as well, if possible. Parents of online students also will be surveyed.

Participating in the electronic survey is optional for families.

School board members expressed privacy and confidentiality concerns, which Shober assured them he would deal with. Otherwise they were eager to hear Shober's findings.

"I would like to see the results," said Diane Barkmeier, committee chairwoman.

Kathy Walsh Nufer: 920-993-1000, ext. 290, or knufer@postcrescent.com
As would I... If I come across the results at a later date, I'll definitely post them here.

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