August 22, 2005

Online Learning

The North American Council for Online Learning has as its mission: "to increase educational opportunities and enhance learning by providing collegial expertise and leadership in K-12 online teaching and learning." Online learning, sometimes referred to as "virtual schools" or "distance learning" is the fastest-growing alternative. For example, Florida Virtual School serves 33,000 students in several states.

Such schools typically serve students in their homes via the Internet, sometimes providing the computer, but always providing licensed teachers who assign and check lessons.

Online schools are operated by school districts, state agencies, universities and charter schools. Most states have worked out funding mechanisms, not based on "seat time" which was an initial stumbling block and still is in some localesNACOL.jpg

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2005

Virtual Schools Study

A thorough study of funding and regulations of online (virtual) schools in Washington enlightens the subject about such topics as:


This carefully conducted and well-written report found that both "high" and "low" achieving students use online courses and programs and makes recommendations for their continuance.


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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:53 AM

December 11, 2004

Changing High School

Because high schools have been so resistant to change, educational choices have expanded enormously. Why can't high schools change? A provocative essay, "The Blind Men and the High School" descibes six strategies to change school. Each states a strategy, problem definition and theory of action. Here is one of the stategies as an example:

Strategy: Devise new institutional forms for secondary education: "Early college" high schools, small high schools, schools-within-schools, charter schools, "KIPP" high schools, virtual high schools. Much has been said and done on this front, and the innovations take many shapes, as do the choice schemes whereby young people and their parents can access the version that works best for them.

Problem definition: The circa-1950s, one-size-fits-all, "comprehensive high school" is dysfunctional and off-putting for many, besides being an inefficient, out-moded vehicle for teaching them what they need to learn.

Theory of action: Create new options for delivering and receiving secondary education, using technology, modern organizational theory, out-sourcing and the like, then give young people choices.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:29 PM

June 01, 2004

Florida Virtual School Enrolls 14,000 Students

One of many virtual or online high schools, Florida Virtual High enrolls over 14,000 students annually across the U.S. and in other countries since its founding in 1997. Their motto is "Any time, Any place, Any path, Any pace." This state funded school claims a 90% course completion rate and offer "franchises" to others wishing to establish their program.

Another school, Hudson High School offers 150 courses worldwide to its 5,000 students.

Virtual schools represent the fastest growing alternatives and serve students across the entire grade range K-16 plus graduate courses. The article, "Forum addresses virtual schooling myths" based on a meeting sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Education answers many questions on this hot topic.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:21 PM

May 04, 2004

Virtual Schools, More Choices

The US Department of Education estimates that 50,000 students from 37 states attend virtual schools either full or part-time, a very rapidly expanding sector of school choice. Though critics worry about the lack of social contact and lack of regulation, parents are making the selection just as they do in the realm of homeschooling. The schools range from progressive to traditional and raise a host of questions about funding and other issues. A good article appeared in the Christian Science Monitor

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:18 PM

February 24, 2004

2000 Applicants for 3 Online Schools

One of the fastest growing educational alternatives is virtual schools or online schools. These schools service students in their homes and operate without a school building. Those in the public sector collect state aid for each student they enroll. This story describes three online schools started by Wisconsin school districts had applicants that far exceeded initial expectations. Online schools are so new (though around for five years) that state funding authorities haven't caught up with how to regulate them. Online schools operate at every level: elementary, secondary and college from undergraduate to post-doctoral. For example, University of Phoenix has become the one of the largest universities in the world through its online degrees. Homeschoolers have found virtual schools an attractive adjunct with courses far beyond what parents could arrange on their own.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:32 PM

January 28, 2004

Cyber Schools

Cyber schools, also called virtual schools or online schools, may be the fastest growing alternative, estimated at 60 schools nationally and perhaps serving 50,000 students according to a new report, Cyber and Home School Charter Schools: How States are Defining New Forms of Public Schooling by Luis A. Huerta of Teachers College, Columbia University. The report discusses policy issues of "non-classroom based" schools in classic "clicks" vs. "bricks" models.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:34 AM

December 03, 2003

Choices in Wisconsin

Several references to alternatives or choices have popped up in Wisconsin. One is about online schools or virtual schools and controversy surrounding their approval. Another is a study, Charter Schools in Wisconsin: Assessing Form and Performance by Dr. John Witte of the University of Wisconsin addressing to what degree charter schools are offering additional choices to parents and determining their performance. Another article, Public Charter Schools: The Next Generation of Innovation suggests that charter Schools offer considerable promise to support new approaches ot schooling.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:12 AM

November 28, 2003

Cyber Schools

Another form of learning alternative is cyber schools, sometimes referred to as online schools or distant learning schools. They enroll and teach students over the Internet at both elementary and secondary levels, not to mention the explosive growth at higher education levels. The State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania dismissed a challenge by the School Boards Association to cyber schools in that state. Cyber school details are being fought out in a number of state and are being watched closely by interested parties: teachers, unions, state departments of education, private companies, and policy wonks. Stay tuned.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:22 AM