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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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