Virtual School Meanderings

August 26, 2014

K-12 Online Learning and Accessibility

Ray Rose recently delivered a TxVSN Speaks Volume Keynote session on K-12 online learning and accessibility.

Interestingly, he posted some Post Conference Impact thoughts as well.

Michigan And Charter School Authorizers

Last week – or the week before – this came across my electronic desk.

Michigan charter school authorizers face suspension

LANSING, Mich. – State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is putting 11 of Michigan’s 40 charter school authorizers on notice of possible suspension.

If suspended, the public universities, community colleges and school districts couldn’t open more charter schools. Their current schools could stay open.

Flanagan said Monday the authorizers are deficient in transparency, accountability and fiscal governance. Their schools as a whole rank in the bottom 10 percent academically.

Authorizers at risk of suspension have until Oct. 22 to remediate their deficiencies. Flanagan will decide in November whether to suspend them.

Authorizers at risk are Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan, Kellogg Community College and school districts in Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights. The state-run Education Achievement Authority and Macomb Intermediate School District also are in jeopardy.

I should note that Ferris State are the authorizers for the Connections Academy cyber charters in the state, and Grand Valley are the authorizers for the K12, Inc. cyber charters.

At about the same time, these entries came across Diane Ravitch’s blog:

Interesting read, with K-12 online learning overtones…

Plugged In | 08.25.14 | (powered by iNACOL)

This would normally have been posted last night, but due to the guest blog entry it is delayed by about 10-12 hours.  So, starting the day with news from the neo-liberals in yesterday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL)
The Telegraph
Not so long ago, the back to school season was marked by a dash to Woolworths for exercise books and colouring pencils. Today it’s not just the shop that’s gone; books and pencils are joined by Chromebook laptops and tablet computers as educational…
The MetroWest Daily News
As students return to the classroom, they have more avenues for online education that help prepare them for college and the workforce, provide opportunities to take classes they otherwise could not and offer an alternative way to learn, officials say. While some…
On August 11, 2014, leaders from our four NH PACE-implementing school districts gathered, along with our partners, Dan French and staff from the Center for Collaborative Education and Scott Marion of the Center for Assessment. PACE stands for…
The New York Times
When it comes to books on public education, we crave a diet of meat as red as a teacher’s cruel pen. In case you plan to write one, here’s a brief primer: 1) Pick a contentious and complex topic, like charter schools, teacher evaluations or standardized…
The Frederick News-Post
When Middletown High School social studies teacher Jen Brennan first heard what the Common Core State Standards would entail, she panicked. “How do you get ninth-graders to read only nonfiction?” she said. The privately developed, federally supported…
The Greenville News
As thousands of Upstate children hopped in big yellow school buses and headed off to big brick schoolhouses last week, the state’s virtual schools hit the “on” button and booted up another year of cyber education. South Carolina was ahead of the curve six years ago…
Many teachers are excited about trying games in the classroom but don’t know where to begin. The landscape of learning games is vast and confusing – and it’s growing and changing rapidly. Moving at the pace of the software industry, games are often…
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Grit – it’s been a hot term in education. To succeed, students need grit, meaning determination, persistence, the capacity to deal with challenges, and resilience when something doesn’t go right. Schools need grit, too. That’s true in any circumstance, but…
The Denver Post
The technological breakthroughs of the Information Age have been impacting education at both the K-12 and college level. This has caused many debates about the value of online education, and criticism of newer online programs with open and free resources. But…
Getting Smart
It is outrageous that the NCAA is deciding what constitutes good instruction – specifically effective student-teacher interaction – and becoming a de facto national regulator of online learning. Thousands of student athletes are ineligible to compete in college because…
The Salt Lake Tribune
Last school year, teacher Pam Loveridge faced her toughest group of students yet. Within a few months, nearly 40 of her 200 middle school math students were failing – much higher than the normal two. She knew she had to do something dramatic. So she flipped her…
Rumors were circulating on Twitter that a teen pop sensation was dead, and it was my job to get the story. Of course, eyewitness accounts varied, the facts were shifting quickly and I had an editor texting me every few minutes, asking me where the story was. I was…
2014 iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium


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August 25, 2014

Guest Blogger: Teach Young People About The Gaps In Access To Education With This Free Online Game!

This is a guest post by Sarah Hutchison, an educational consultant with SPARK Global Learning, who is working on behalf of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

mind-the-gapAs the deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals looms (September 2015), the world is looking closely at whether we will reach the aim of providing universal access to primary education. Although significant gains have been made since the goal was set, progress in recent years has slowed. At the time of the World Education Forum in 2000, there were 102 million children out of school. That number had dropped to 58 million by 2012. Yet data show that the world is still unlikely to achieve universal access by 2015. Watch this for more: Video: Data Tell Us

As the new school year approaches turn your focus to a resource that examines these gaps and inequities in access to education around the world. Explore the online game Mind the Gap: Gender and Education.

mindthegapStatistics come alive with a click of a button allowing users to easily compare and contrast the education of children, adolescents, students and adults living in different countries around the world. Access to education for girls versus boys is explored along with some of the reasons why gaps still exist. Online learning is bolstered by engaging facilitated activities found in the accompanying Facilitator Guide.

This guide provides an introduction to the topic of gender and education, gives a framework for exploring the online data tool, and suggests further ways to extend learning. The activities are most suitable for young people in grades 5 through 10 participating in classroom settings, clubs and youth groups, and homeschools that are exploring global citizenships and education themes.

Neat idea! Explore this topic with young people on International Literacy Day, September 8.

Note: The tool is available in English, French and Spanish. The guide is available in English and French.

This is a guest post by Sarah Hutchison, an educational consultant with SPARK Global Learning, who is working on behalf of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

August 24, 2014

NCVPS E-lert for August 22, 2014

From Friday’s inbox…

Districts and Charter Schools,
Please forward this E-lert to your school-level stakeholders. If you are having difficulty viewing this email, you may view the E-lert online here: .
August 22, 2014 – In This Issue:

Calendar Check
August 12 – Early calendar classes begin.
August 14 – Final summer grades posted in the registration system.
August 15 – Early Calendar Day 3 Status Report posted in the registration system. See which students have not logged in!
August 20 – Early Calendar Day 7 Status Report posted in the registration system. See which students have not logged in!
August 25 – Last day to add or drop students from early calendar classes.
August 26 – Traditional calendar classes begin.
August 29 – Traditional Calendar Day 3 Status Report posted in the registration system. See which students have not logged in!
September 5 – Traditional Calendar Day 7 Status Report posted in the registration system. See which students have not logged in!
September 9 – Last day to add or drop students from traditional calendar classes.

We heard . . . .
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ~Carl Sagan.

“To admit that you begin the day planning to change the world certainly sounds grandiose, maybe even delusional.  Yet, I believe that you do change the world every day, whether you intend to or not.  Often it only takes a small act to make a difference.” ~Mark Sanborn

“A teacher can either cement mediocrity or inspire excellence in a student, regardless of what subject is being taught.”  ~ Stephen R. Covey

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” ~Leonard Bernstein
“No rule you make during the 1st weeks of school will cause good behavior in May. Strong relationships will though.” ~Dr. Joe Clark
“The trouble is learning requires rethinking and rethinking hurts.”


“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” ~ B. B. King

‘”The best teachers are the ones that show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.”

NCVPS Celebrations
Districts and Schools, tell us about your success stories. Let us hear about individual student successes, increased virtual enrollment, outstanding lab facilitators, or virtual support processes that your school or district has in place. We would love to promote these stories.

Click here to tell us about your successes.

E-lert Subscription
If you are not on the E-lert subscription list, but would like to be, please add your name to our list here.

Current E-lert News

NCVPS Enrollment Numbers
Our enrollments have been tremendous for the last two weeks, and we anticipate large numbers for the next several weeks. On a few occasions, our registration system has been sluggish due to the high usage. Thank you for your patience!
We did want to take a moment to say
Here’s a look at the numbers:

Flexible Funding Options for NCVPS

NCVPS is looking for volunteer districts to pilot the flexible funding option. School districts and charter schools have a number of options to fund NCVPS enrollments. Districts and charters typically use the allotted funds from DPI’s funding formula. In 2011 legislation, the General Assembly outlined four additional options to fund NCVPS enrollments, referred to as flexible funding:


1. Local funds.

2. Federal funds.

3. Special state reserve for children and youth with disabilities.

4. ADM contingency reserve.


These options give districts and charters more flexibility with their own budgets by using all of their revenue streams more strategically.


Contact NCVPS to learn more about flexible funding options and to volunteer. We are able to accept the first 5 interested districts in this pilot. Call 919-513-8550 for more details.

Registration Updates
Student Contact Information
It is essential that schools use a student’s correct email address when they enroll.
PLEASE DO NOT use a staff member’s email address when you enroll students. If you do, it will create two major issues:
1. NCVPS teachers will not have the correct email address to contact students. It is imperative that our teachers have this. It helps ensure the success of your students.
2. It enrolls the staff member’s email address into the class forums. Students will not get their forum updates, and the staff member’s inbox will be flooded with updates.
Student Status No-Show Reports (Action Required)
NCVPS will post a Day 3 and Day 7 Status Report in the registration system. The status reports will indicate if students have or have not logged in to their courses.

This link shows how to run the no-show report if you’re an e-learning coordinator or e-learning advisor.


The reports are labeled as “No Show Reports.”


District coordinators, you may run this report for your entire district and see where there might be problem areas.

If students have not logged in, please make contact with those students. Make sure they are aware that they are registered for the course, that the course has started, and that they have their usernames and passwords.
Please make sure that you have made your final drops by NCVPS’s tenth day of class. Any students on the roster after Day 10 will be counted in the district’s allotment totals, and those students will receive a grade.
Here are the dates for the status reports and last days to drop:
Early Calendar
Day 3: August 15
Day 7: August 20
Day 10: August 25 – Last Day to Drop
Traditional Calendar
Day 3: August 29
Day 7: September 5
Day 10: September 9 – Last Day to Drop
Student Rosters
If you are missing any students on your rosters who you need to register, please open a ticket with our Virtual Support Center here:
Include the following minimum information in your ticket:
  • Student’s name
  • Student’s PowerSchool number
  • School name
If available, we also request the following information to expedite the enrollment process:
  • Student’s Email
  • Does the student have an IEP?
  • Does the student have a 504 Plan?
Waitlisted Students
We will continue to open new sections based on what we see on the waitlists. Please go ahead and add students to the waitlist for a course if you would like to enroll them.
We do have a number of courses that are at capacity. Courses that are at capacity will not have any new sections opened. The only way that students will move off the waitlist is if a student who is already enrolled in the course drops. We will continue to move students off the waitlist in courses that are at capacity through Day 10 of the course as enrolled students drop.
Early Calendar Closed Courses
We have closed a number of early calendar courses that had low enrollments or no enrollments. Students enrolled in those courses were moved into traditional calendar courses. We have emailed the schools that had enrollments in those closed courses.
If you had an early calendar enrollment that was moved to a traditional calendar course, and if that schedule does not work for your student, you may withdraw the student if you need to. We are sorry for that inconvenience! Our traditional calendar instructors, though, will work with early calendar students to allow them to finish the course early if that helps.
Allotment Totals
If your district or charter schools is out of allotment funds, your district office or charter office may apply for the use of our reserve funds. Using our reserve funds does not cost your district any additional money this year; although, you may see your allotment totals go up slightly next year.
To access our reserve funds, please complete this form.  The form should be completed by the district’s e-learning coordinator or the charter school’s principal.
AP German Enrollment
AP German through Oklahoma State University has been approved as a vendor course. To enroll students in AP German, schools will need to go directly through OSU. You will not register students into AP German through the NCVPS registration system.
NOTE: AP German enrollments are NOT covered in your allotment funds. Districts and schools will directly pay OSU for those enrollments.
NOTE: Schools can still enroll students in German 1-4 in our registration system, and those enrollments ARE covered by your allotted funds.
Here is the contact information for OSU:
Sabine Lewis

District and School Semester Prep
Traditional Calendar Classes begin on August 26.
Please follow this link to see how to prepare for the upcoming semester.

Tech Updates

We hope you are off to a great start for the Fall Semester!

Below are some helpful tips and reminders to help you get off to the start of a wonderful school year!


Student Login Check

We encourage students to confirm their login information before classes start. Students can first access their courses during our “Meet the Teacher” week, which starts the week before classes begin.


Our Meet the Teacher week for traditional calendar begins on August 21.


Note that students will have to be enrolled into the course for their logins to work. After a student is enrolled, it usually takes 24 hours for their logins to work.


Password Resets

If you have had your password reset, the new password will not expire unless you have reset it. If you have forgotten what your password was reset to, you can look up the help desk ticket to access the new password.
Course Issues

When requesting help regarding a course it always easier for tech support to respond quickly if we have the specific section name, for example CourseSec01Fall14.


Help Desk Ticketing Tips

When opening a Help Desk ticket please always include students first & last name as well as ID number. This will help to insure we have the correct student.


Student Email Confirmations in Moodle and Blackboard

Please have students confirm or update their e-mail address in our learning management systems. Here’s how to do that. (This is also on our Getting Started Checklist for NCVPS Students.)
In Moodle:
* Navigate to Administration
* My Profile settings
* Edit Profile
* Verify or update e-mail
* Scroll to bottom and “Update Profile”
In Blackboard:
* Click on students name in the upper right side of your BB course
* Click on setting
* Click on Personal Information
* Click on Edit Personal Information to update e-mail
* Scroll to bottom and Submit

Pilot Programs

NCVPS wants to be a solutions option for our schools and for the learning needs of your students. We are currently working on programs for the future that will provide more options for schools.

One program is part of our ongoing partnership with NC DPI Exceptional Children’s division to provide co-teaching courses for students who need inclusion classes for core subjects.

Additionally, we know the needs the English Language Learner (ELL) brings to a school, so NCVPS is partnering with NC DPI’s ELL experts to determine how NCVPS could best meet the needs of these learners.

Finally, NCVPS is piloting this fall ways to do mastery learning for first time credit as an intervention strategy for students who need enrollment options beyond regular start and end semester dates.

NCVPS is excited to continue our history of innovation so that we can meet the needs of North Carolina students and public schools. More details to come!

Middle School Success 101

NCVPS is offering Middle School Success 101 this fall. Originally we had planned to enroll students by hand, but with the volume of interest we received, we decided to allow each middle school to enroll on its own.  Look for the course title “Middle School Success 101″ in our registration system.


We will be reviewing the waitlists daily and open new sections.  However, we are limited to 10 sections for Fall 2014 as we roll out this new course, so please do not delay in enrolling your students.


Please keep in mind that this course is not for high school credit. This is a middle school course.

ACT Prep Course

NCVPS C&I is happy to share an ACT Prep course is in development and will be ready to pilot in Fall 2014. We will only offer 8 sections of 25 students for the fall. We will make the course available to everyone in the Spring 2015.


If you are interested in enrolling students in our ACT Prep course for Fall 2014, please sign up now. There are limited seats available.


If you have questions, please contact Karen Creech at

Catalogs for Virtual Learning 
in North Carolina
NCVPS Courses
NCVPS offers over 150 different courses, including advanced placement, electives, traditional, honors, core, STEM, occupational course of study, and credit recovery courses.

Vendor Approved Courses

In addition to NCVPS courses, North Carolina public schools also have a list of approved third-party vendor courses that they may choose from for virtual classes. Please follow this link to see the list of approved vendor courses. More on the vendor approval process can be found here.

Here are the newest approved vendor courses: (Course Title – Vendor)

  • AP German – Oklahoma State University
  • Physics – Edmentum

Speaking Virtually
Have you noticed that the digital world and online learning have their own jargon?  We would like to help everyone speak virtually. Here are two terms for this week:
Asynchronous: Communication and learning are not live with an instructor. Email would be a form of asynchronous communication. NCVPS courses are designed to be asynchronous, as students do not have live contact with their teachers. Students, though, can arrange to make synchronous contact with their NCVPS teachers.


Synchronous: Communication and learning are live with an instructor. A phone call and instant messaging are forms of synchronous communication. Even though our courses are asynchronous, our teachers do host synchronous teaching sessions with students on Elluminate, which is an online whiteboard with communication features. For students who cannot attend, NCVPS teachers record and archive the live sessions for later viewing.

Twitter School
Follow us on Twitter! Throughout the week, our team posts valuable links that help followers better understand today’s learners and find the right tools to teach with, ideas that are important to all educators. Dive a little deeper into virtual education with the following links curated by the NCVPS Professional Learning team.
 Learn with us on Twitter here:
North Carolina Virtual Public School
1017 Main Campus Drive, Partners I Bldg.,
SUITE 3900, Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone:  919-513-8550   |  Fax:  919-513-2557  |


Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter

North Carolina Virtual Public School | 1017 Main Campus Drive, Partners I Bldg., SUITE 3900 | Raleigh | NC | 27606

Adam Renfro
Outreach and Support Coordinator
North Carolina Virtual Public School
NCVPS Virtual Support Center:

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