Virtual School Meanderings

November 16, 2010

VSS 2010 – An Assessment Of The Health Of Virtual School Participants And An Innovative Outreach Program For Chronically Ill Children

So the first real session I’m able to blog at the annual Virtual School Symposium was one of the research sessions, delivered by my colleague Erik Black and one of the doctoral students at Florida.  The session was described as:

An Assessment of the Health of Virtual School Participants and an Innovative Outreach Program for Chronically Ill Children
Erik W. Black, Lindsay A Thompson, Noy Askenazi, Rick Ferdig & Tiffany Kisker

This session will present the results of a multi-state epidemiological assessment of virtual school participants. It will describe the basic demographics and health status of virtual school students and discuss whether virtual education narrows known educational disparities in populations with health issues. The research team will discuss an innovative collaborative partnership to create outreach to children with special health care needs.

Erik began with a background of how he came about this topic – and for those that know Erik and his current position in the medical school, but his background work with Rick and the Virtual School Clearinghouse, it all kind of make sense .  The research in this session focused on children with special health care needs.  The definition of children with special health care needs – those that have chronic health issues (about 15% of the general population and 20% of the medicaid folks).

The first portion of the presentation focused on a pilot study that was done with Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  The data found that there were approximately 25% of the children with special health care needs within the virtual school population of these three states.  Interestingly the sample of students was 70% white – which is not reflective of the overall population of students in those three states.  The pilot data showed that this population of students had a higher percentage of virtual school non-completion than the regular students.

Some of the takeaways from the pilot data were the fact that there was an overpopulation of white, educated families in within the sample of children with special health care needs within the virtual school student population of these three states – and that population of children with special health needs was higher than the percentage in the general population.  While virtual schooling was an option for these students, it was an option that they didn’t have the same proportion of success as other students.

The second phase focused on the Florida Virtual School, where approximately 62,000 students were contacted and approximately 4000 responded (or 7% response rate).  The team again found that approximately 25% of the student population were children with special health needs.  There were no significant differences in grades between virtual school and traditional coursework among children with special health needs.

The next few slides were data that highlighted the amount of time this population of students spent in and out of hospitals, and discussing the time, cost and the priority that school would have in this kind of situation.

Some of the takeaways from this data indicated that the sample was predominantly a white, education population again.  These children with special health needs were spending significant times in the hospital.  Fortunately, student performance in their virtual school courses from this sample performed at consistent levels.

The third phase, which moved to more qualitative data, focused on seven adolescents who were identified as children with special health needs.  All seven were male and five were white.  All seven were on medicaid.  Five were identified as being from high poverty situations.

Some of the findings…

  • 1 student completed the course
  • 1 students withdrew to return to traditional school environment (he became healthy and wanted to return to the traditional environment)
    • these two students were the two that did not come from the high poverty households)
  • 1 students was withdrawn due to academic/cognitive ability
  • 4 students were unable to start coursework due to registration issues (parents and school of record)

The main takeaway was that “Support structure is critical. None of our students in poverty were able to complete. 4 of the 5 were not able to get started.”

I’m sure if Erik and Tiffany have things to add, they should feel free to correct or modify anything I’m written.

Attending Sessions At The Virtual School Symposium 2010

Over the weekend I posted the entry listing the Research Sessions At The Virtual School Symposium.  I apologize that I haven’t been able to blog many of these sessions, as the wireless in the keynote rooms was basically useless – and yesterday I was involved in three of the five break-out sessions.

To begin today, I wanted to highlight the sessions that I participated in yesterday (which was one of the reasons I wanted blogging).

9:30 – 10:30 am Breakout Session #1

  • Examining Issues of Working with At-Risk Learners in Online Environments – Cathy Cavanaugh, Daryl Diamond, Leanna Archambault & Michael Barbour
    To better understand how online programs are dealing with students who have been identified as at-risk, the iNACOL Research Committee gathered a sampling of K-12 online schools currently working with at-risk student populations to examine specific strategies as well as delivery and design methods used to assist at-risk student populations. This session will bring together a panel of authors to share and discuss key findings from “An Exploration of At-Risk Learners and Online Education.”

10:45 – 11:45 am Breakout Session #2

  • State of the Nation: K-12 online learning in Canada – Michael Barbour
    This panel will examine the state of K-12 online learning in Canada based on the 2010 edition of this on-going report. More specifically the panel will describe the policies that govern and the level of activity of virtual schooling in all thirteen provinces and territories. The panel will also discuss the various models that have developed and are currently in use across the country. Finally, the panel will outline some of the many issues that are still facing K-12 online learning in Canada.

4:45 – 5:45 pm Breakout Session #5

  • Perspectives of Online Teachers: Lessons Learned – Jim Kinsella & Michael Barbour
    Jim Kinsella and Dr. Michael Barbour are pioneers in online education They met in 1999, and created and began teaching an online course. They currently continue their online teaching careers with various entities. Since that time they separately and jointly journeyed through the evolution of online education. This presentation will explore the avenues they took, the mistakes they made, and the successes they celebrated as online education developed.
  • Recent Research on Online Teaching and Learning: Implications for Practice – 2 – Karen Sander, Leanna Archambault, Michael K. Barbour, Richard Ferdig, Rob Darrow & Susan Lowes
    Susan Lowes, Institute for Learning Technologies, Teachers College/Columbia University In this panel, researchers will present recent research with immediate implications for practitioners, including teachers, administrators, and course designers. You will hear about research on urban high school students’ perceptions of a blended course (Barbour); how brick-and-mortar schools can hire effective online teachers (Sanders and Archimbault); the successes of at-risk students in an online charter school (Darrow); and findings from work with the Virtual School Clearinghouse (Ferdig).

Note that as of the posting of this blog entry, I haven’t had a chance to add all of my materials to the various wiki entries.  But that will be done throughout the day.

November 15, 2010

Florida Virtual School Joins Panel Hosted by uBoost

This came from my inbox today.

uBoost, the nation’s premier student recognition and rewards platform is pleased to announce that in addition to Jeff Piontek, Head of School at Hawaii Technology Academy, Pam Birtola, Chief Learning Officer from Florida Virtual School, will be joining the panel taking place at the Virtual School Symposium on Tuesday, November 16th between 9:45-10:45am in room Cascade D at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel and Spa.

Panel members will examine the role recognition and rewards play in driving student engagement and course completion in online credit recovery programs. In addition, live polls will be taken as the results of an online student survey are unveiled. The survey was completed by more than 2,300 students who attend online or hybrid schools, answering questions about their favorite forms of recognition and who they value receiving recognition from the most.

Click here to read the full press release.

TeacherStream Events At VSS

This showed up in my inbox two days ago, and I should have posted it then (but still relevant for tomorrow at least).

A message to all members of TeacherStream

For those attending VSS, we’ve organized two different events to help connect TeacherStream members:

  1. Tonight at 8:30:  After-hours Social, meet in the hotel lobby bar after the VSS Welcome Reception.
  2. Throughout the conference:  Join us to play “Photogs at VSS.”  Let’s capture the moment on our cell phones, have some fun, and win a prize.  For more info, see http://teacherstream.ning.com/forum/topics/photogs-at-vss-the-game

If you’re not attending VSS, you can still follow the fun on our photostream http://teacherstream.ning.com/photo or in Twitter using #vssphotogs.

Hope to see some of you tonight!

Lisa Dawley

Visit TeacherStream at: http://teacherstream.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Canadian Sessions At The Virtual School Symposium

On Saturday, I posted a list of Research Sessions At The Virtual School Symposium.  As the main sessions are beginning later today, and since there are at least 60 folks from Canadian programs here this week, I wanted to provide a list of sessions at the annual Virtual School Symposium from Canadian programs or focused on Canadian content.

Monday, November 15, 2010 – Conference Day 1

9:30 – 10:30 am Breakout Session #1

Fusion Education – How one online school creates blended school experiences for students (Cascade G)
Clint Surry, South Island Distance Education School
Karen Flello, South Island Distance Education School
Kim Lemieux, South Island Distance Education School
From its humble beginnings as a K – 12 Distance Education (Correspondence) school in the 70s, SIDES has evolved into a Distributed Learning powerhouse that has been cited as a benchmark against which other DL schools in British Columbia (Canada) gauge their success. We will present our school’s rich history and the challenges we have faced establishing credibility and status as a bona fide school, and look at the methods we have used to create rewarding partnerships with neighbourhood schools.

10:45 – 11:45 am Breakout Session #2

State of the Nation: K-12 online learning in Canada (Cascade A)
Michael Barbour, Wayne State University
This panel will examine the state of K-12 online learning in Canada based on the 2010 edition of this on-going report. More specifically the panel will describe the policies that govern and the level of activity of virtual schooling in all thirteen provinces and territories. The panel will also discuss the various models that have developed and are currently in use across the country. Finally, the panel will outline some of the many issues that are still facing K-12 online learning in Canada.

4:45 – 5:45 pm Breakout Session #5

21st Century and Beyond: Taking An Online Program to the Next Level (Cascade F)
Jordan Kleckner, eSchoolBC in School District #23, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Keely Switzer, eSchoolBC in School District #23, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Growing an online program isn’t easy. eSchoolBC in Kelowna, Canada set out to revolutionize their online programs to meet the needs of 21st century learners. Hear about the successes, the challenges, and take away some of the invaluable resources they used to create an engaging, exciting online learning environment that the students look forward to logging on to every day.

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