Virtual School Meanderings

March 22, 2011

New Blogger: CantaNet

Kind of fitting that I post notice of this New Zealander blogger in a New Zealand kind of time zone.


Some of the recent entries include:

And many others – about 80 or so over a three year period.

November 2, 2009

Questions About Synchronous Instruction From Germany

onlineI received the following e-mail last week from a researcher in Germany.

I  just found your interesting presentation from 2008 on the Internet. It focuses on Research and Practice in virtual schooling, a review of literature. In this presentation you have a list with “Benefits and Challenges” and you cite yourself with “Barbour 2007″. Since my research field is the implementation of digital media in schools and classroom practice, I would be very interested in this certain ressource. Would you mind sending me the exact reference so I would be able to get it and read it.

I just started new research in a school which teaches one half of children in a classrooms and another half somewhere else, connecting these learning groups over electronic whiteboards and video-conference-systems. The aim is to teach students in smaller schools in rural areas without teachers for all subjects in these places. Have you ever heard something about such approaches? For Germany it is a pilot project. But there might be experiences in other countries.

While I sent a response directly to the query in the first paragraph, I wanted to post this message here to get some additional feedback on the query in the second paragraph (i.e., the stuff in blue).

In my response to that, I could think of three examples of folks using a significant level of synchronous instruction through a virtual classroom or video conferencing:

  1. Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation in Newfoundland, Canada
  2. ACCESS Alabama in the United States (although I believe they did get rid of their video conferencing option)
  3. Virtual Learning Network in New Zealand

I know others do this, but these were the three that I could think of that made what I consider extensive use of it (i.e., for 50% or more of their instructional delivery).  Based upon these three examples, I suggested this research look for the work of:

  1. My own work (e.g., my dissertation work, along with my Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy and Quarterly Review of Distance Education articles) and the work of Elizabeth Murphy at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
  2. The external evaluation work conducted by Margaret Roblyer.
  3. More recent work of Niki Davis (i.e., since she has moved to the University of Canterbury).

Am I missing any that you would suggest?

While not directly related, personally I would also suggest that the audiographics or telematics work that was being done in Canada and Australia might also be applicable (as these systems had audio conferencing and electronic whiteboard capabilities) .  I know that Newfoundland made extensive use of this system at the K-12 level, so there may be some literature there worth looking into.  I also know that Thomas Reeves and Ron Oliver did some evaluation work of an audiographic system (which included the K-12 environment) in Australia – as I have the report around here somewhere.

Note this final thought came to me since I responded to this researcher over the weekend, so this last paragraph are new ideas Brigit!

September 13, 2009

Article Notice: Video Conferencing In Distance Learning: A New Zealand Schools’ Perspective

journalcover2008smA while back I mentioned one K-12 online learning article in the recent issue of the Journal of Distance Learning (see DEANZ Notes), but I failed to mention the other one.

Roberts, R. (2009). Video conferencing in distance learning: A New Zealand schools’ perspective.  Journal of Distance Learning, 13(1), 91-107.

The description provided by editor, Mark Nichols is:

Finally, Rachel Roberts of Stratford High School summarises the development of video conferencing in New Zealand’s secondary school sector. Roberts gives insight into the rich availability and use of video conferencing, and she reveals the collaboration that is taking place across schools to make it all possible. Using synchronous video conferencing makes it easier to match teaching expertise with student needs across the country. However, synchronous video is not without its challenges, which range from operational to strategic. (p. 4)

Having just thumbed through it myself, I would recommend it as a nice overview of what is going on in New Zealand – and particularly the activities of the Virtual Learning Network.

The Rubric Theme Blog at


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