Virtual School Meanderings

August 12, 2013

Guest Blog Re-Post: An Affordable Solution For AP Programs

This guest blog entry was originally posted on the Sevenstar Blog and re-posted here.  I have agreed to periodically post these entries over the course of the summer. Comments have been closed on this entry, but if you want to interact with the author please visit the original entry.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

AP Courses Give Students an Edge in College Admissions. Download Your Free Guide to Learn How You Can Build an Affordable Program at Your Christian School!

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are an important factor for many parents and students who are considering enrolling in a Christian School. AP courses provide the highest achieving students the chance to study college level material. Parents and students see AP courses as an academic challenge, a way to better prepare for college, and an advantage on college applications. Yet many Christian schools trail their public school competitors in AP course offerings. Larger, well-funded public schools have the competitive edge among families with high academic standards because these schools can provide students a broad AP curriculum. How can Christian schools maintain their small class size and value-driven curriculum while competing with public and large private schools that provide a wide range of AP courses? Increasingly, Christian schools are looking online for the solution to this problem.

Online Advanced Placement courses allow Christian schools to easily expand their curriculum. Through online learning, courses can be tailored for the individual student. If you have a student interested in engineering, but your school does not provide an AP calculus course, online learning can be an efficient solution. Instead of losing that student, your school could provide a flexible and affordable online option for that student. Online learning keeps the education within your school. There  is no need to construct complicated relationships with public institutions in order to serve single student needs.

Online AP courses are the most affordable solution for Christian schools in many situations.

Who pays for it?
The cost of offering AP courses can be covered through tuition and additional fees paid by families. Schools can provide access to the online course, but students and their families pay the fee. Under some arrangements, the family also pays an extra fee that can help a school pay for administrative overhead and other programs.

What about faith?
Online AP courses are now offered to meet the educational goals of a Christian education. As a Christian school you strive to offer all your students a well-rounded and rigorous education. Offering an expanded range of AP courses online helps you achieve that with your most gifted students. You are helping them shine their light in the world.

How will it fit into the student’s schedule?
Online learning is flexible and allows schools to set their own start and end dates for an AP course. With the AP exam in May, students can start the online course as early as June to prepare for the next yearís exams. The summer months will provide your students ample time to prepare and increases their chance of securing college credit.

A Christian School Educatorís Guide to Online AP courses

AP Online courses put a Christian school on equal footing with its public counterparts without placing additional strain on the school’s resources. Learn more about it in our new white paper, Online Opportunities for Christian SchoolsDownload this free resource for Christian educators using the link below.


Sevenstar Google+

This guest blog entry was originally posted on the Sevenstar Blog and re-posted here.  I have agreed to periodically post these entries over the course of the summer. Comments have been closed on this entry, but if you want to interact with the author please visit the original entry.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

July 29, 2013

EDTECH597 – Guest Blog Re-Post: Online Credit Recovery Trends

This is the first entry in Week 8 of my EDTECH597 – Blogging In The Classroom.

This guest blog entry was originally posted on the Sevenstar Blog and re-posted here.  I have agreed to periodically post these entries over the course of the summer. Comments have been closed on this entry, but if you want to interact with the author please visit the original entry.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today (minus of course the EDTECH597 entry posted first thing this morning).

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” – Proverbs 22:6

Ready to Gain a Competitive Advantage? Download Your Free Guide Below!

A Christian education aims to give students the academic and spiritual tools to walk with confidence onto their post-graduation path. Failing a class sets a student back educationally, shakes his or her foundation, and can start a cycle that leads to dropping out. Christian educators are driven to provide all students the opportunities to succeed. Online credit recovery is the latest tool for guiding struggling students back on track.

(more…)

July 15, 2013

Crossposted: Christian K-12 Online Learning In Canada

First of all I would like to thank Sevenstar Academy for the opportunity to post this to their the Sevenstar Blog. Note that it is being re-posted here, but with the comments closed. If you wish to comment, please visit the entry on the the Sevenstar Blog at http://blog.sevenstar.org/blog/bid/304290/An-Overview-of-Christian-K-12-Online-Learning-In-Canada.

A few weeks ago I was asked to prepare a guest blog entry by the social media folks at Sevenstar Academy. As I reflected on what I could focus on that might be of interest to the readers of the the Sevenstar Blog, and after some reflection I decided to focus on the topic of Christian education through K-12 online learning in Canada.

canadaUnlike the United States, certain provinces actually provide publicly-funded access to Christian education. The history of this national oddity has its roots in the British North America Act, 1867 (later to become the Constitution Act, 1867). In the BNA Act, section 91 and section 92 outline the responsibilities given to the federal government (i.e., section 91) and to the provincial governments (i.e., section 92). Education fell into section 92 or under the governance of the provinces (in much the same way that education is of local jurisdiction in the United States – although recent federal encroachment and federal funding programs might lead one to believe otherwise).  What this has meant for the development of public education in Canada is that each provincial system is quite different.

The nature of each province’s education system is based on what existed at the time the province joined Canada.  Essentially, whatever was funded by the responsible government that was in place in that jurisdiction prior to Confederation (i.e., joining Canada), was what was publicly funded when that jurisdiction became a province.  For example, in 1867 there existed both a publicly funded public system and a publicly funded Catholic system in Ontario.  So when Canada was created, both systems were publicly funded in the Province of Ontario.  Similarly, in Newfoundland and Labrador there existed a publicly funded Anglican, United Church, Salvation Army, Catholic, and Pentecostal systems of education.  After 1949 (i.e., when Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada), all of these systems continued to be publicly funded (although the Anglican, United Church, and Salvation Army education systems eventually merged in the 1960s to form a single integrated system).  In fact, it took a constitutional amendment in the 1990s to create a single public education system in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the same way there are publicly funded brick-and-mortar Catholic education schools and districts, many of these provinces also have Catholic online learning programs.  For example, in the Province of Ontario these programs are represented by the cooperative Ontario Catholic e-Learning Consortium.  Even some of the limited research into K-12 online learning in Canada is focused on Catholic education.  Research studies by Litke in the Journal of Distance Education and by Tunison and Noonan in the Canadian Journal of Education were conducted in Catholic K-12 online learning programs.

In provinces where Catholic education is not publicly funded, many brick-and-mortar school and K-12 online learning programs have chosen to establish themselves under independent school regulations/legislation (i.e., private schools).  For example, in British Columbia the provincial government provides 50% of the funding to independent schools and numerous K-12 online learning programs have been created under these regulations (this has been recently increased to 62%).  In fact, the largest K-12 online learning program in all of Canada is a Catholic online learning program (i.e., Heritage Christian Online School with over 3000 students).

Many of the specifics of publicly funded Catholic K-12 online learning has been outlined in the annual State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada reports, including specific vignettes that highlight individual programs and brief issue papers that feature some of the outreach activities undertaken by some of these Catholic K-12 online learning programs.

First of all I would like to thank Sevenstar Academy for the opportunity to post this to their the Sevenstar Blog. Note that it is being re-posted here, but with the comments closed. If you wish to comment, please visit the entry on the the Sevenstar Blog at http://blog.sevenstar.org/blog/bid/304290/An-Overview-of-Christian-K-12-Online-Learning-In-Canada.

July 10, 2013

EDTECH597 – Guest Blog Entry: Why Online Learning Is Working To Revolutionize Education

As I mentioned in the EDTECH597 – Week 5 entry for my EDTECH597 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I wanted to post a sample of a guest blog entry.

This guest post is contributed by Lauren D. Wanger-Hernandez, a Masters in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University and Virtual Instructor for Florida Virtual School.  You can follow her on Twitter at @LaurenWanger.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

I feel the need to respond to Larry Cuban’s recent blog on “Why K-12 online learning isn’t really revolutionizing teaching.”

As an online teacher and advocate for e-learning, I absolutely disagree with Clayton Christensen’s statement (as quoted in Cuban’s blog) that “all students” will be able to learn and realize their fullest potential through online learning.

Online learning is not the best fit for “all students”, and the reality is many will not succeed in such an environment. I agree that it depends on many varying factors such as socioeconomic status, access to materials (i.e., reliable internet service), and other factors.

computerlearningIt appears relatively fundamental, but in order to succeed in an online learning environment, a student will need basic technical skills, access to the internet, and a working computer. We run into cases where students cannot complete their work because they do not have reliable internet access. While we have a foundation that tries to provide students with assistance to get a working computer, we do not currently offer internet access. Students can try to work in places (like the library) where internet access is provided, but sometimes this can be quite challenging and act as a road block to student success. This is an ongoing problem and our school continues to work with the state and businesses to develop solutions (see http://www.orlandoadvocate.com/index.php/local/65887-the-foundation-for-florida-virtual-school-and-centurylink-provide-affordable-internet-for-low-income-families). After all, our school was first created to provide access to higher-level courses to underserved populations. It is these underserved populations that may have connectivity issues.

As an online teacher for Florida Virtual School, we strive to level the playing field by offering a similar learning experience for students. The curriculum in each course is identical, and based on Common Core Standards – all lessons and reading materials are the same for each student. However, students are able to learn on their own time and at their own pace. This is a key difference between traditional and virtual learning programs.

From my personal experience, I believe the relationship between a virtual teacher and virtual student is most misunderstood. Teachers are available to assist students seven days a week by phone, allowing them to build one-on-one relationships with students, and develop plans that customize education for each student. In this respect – online learning differs from traditional learning, as you get to know each student on a more personal level.

Mostly, interaction with parents is also increased. While I taught in the traditional classroom, I maybe interacted with parents once per year. However, with FLVS, I speak with parents via phone, email or text message at least once per month. Most parents (not all) are happy to speak with us and work as a partner to ensure student success.

Becoming a teacher with FLVS is no easy task. Interviews are rigorous and evaluations are designed to encourage teacher growth and development, while also weeding out incompetence. With a yearly contract, the school will “let go” those teachers who are not considered “stars”, to quote Cuban. In addition, students and parents fill out surveys based on their thoughts of their online teacher and their experience in the class (voice of the student). These surveys are a part of the teacher’s evaluation, and therefore encourage excellence among teachers (if you want to keep your position here).

This year, FLVS added a new component to their teacher evaluations. Instructional leaders now observe teachers’ live lessons. Teachers must meet a variety of criteria that seeks to ensure student engagement and achievement in their classes.

Blended learning models are also an effective tool for many traditional schools. In my previous research, I examined the relationship between self-directed learning and online learning. Taking a class online contributes to an increased self-directed learning score on the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale * and in that sense, is beneficial to students of all ages.

However, I also discovered that students need some level of self-directedness in order to be successful in an online learning class (research suggests this as well). Students who are self-starters, organized, and self-motivated will tend to be more successful in an online learning environment. However, those students who may not be self-directed in their learning can still succeed if they have the support of their parents/guardians and online teacher. We offer Individualized Pace Plans (IPPs) that keep students on track, and that are customized to that particular student.

Nevertheless, students still are withdrawn from online classes due to lack of work and communication. A detailed analysis of FLVS withdrawal data can be found in the following report.

We are able to work with students of all backgrounds. We also have an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department, and teachers are given strategies to ensure students are given the opportunity to succeed (i.e., Reading comprehension strategies). We have an award winning professional development department as well.

When I have a student that is having a hard time understanding the content – there are several methods I use to help that student succeed, for example, one-on-one phone meetings, online tutoring in a virtual classroom, or video tutorials that break down content. However, even though our online teachers offer these strategies, we cannot force a student to speak with us or attend our online tutoring sessions. If a student refuses our help and we cannot reach his or her parents, then we have no choice but to withdraw the student.

We must also consider that there may be some students who simply need face-to-face interaction, in traditional classroom setting. As responsible educators, we must recognize these students and recommend an alternate setting if an online learning environment is not the best method for those students.

However, critics of virtual education, including Cuban, need to acknowledge that many students have needed e-learning programs to graduate when the regular education classroom environment (or teacher) failed them.

Online learning certainly has its place in the educational world and I do believe it will continue to grow. I do not believe it will “replace regular schools”. E-Learning can be used to increase student achievement for many students, as well as provide a valuable learning experience for students that can be helpful in the future. However, I agree we should not use blanket statements that claim this method will work for all students and will replace traditional classroom education. Used in conjunction with traditional learning models, online learning can work side by side with traditional learning to transform, and yes, even revolutionize education, and it already has started to do so.

This guest post is contributed by Lauren D. Wanger-Hernandez, a Masters in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University and Virtual Instructor for Florida Virtual School.  You can follow her on Twitter at @LaurenWanger.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

June 17, 2013

Guest Blog Re-Post: Keeping The Faith In Summer School

This guest blog entry was originally posted on the Sevenstar Blog and re-posted here.  I have agreed to periodically post these entries over the course of the summer. Comments have been closed on this entry, but if you want to interact with the author please visit the original entry.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today (minus of course the EDTECH597 entry posted first thing this morning).

Ready to Keep the Faith in Christian Summer School Education? Check Out Your Free Resource Below!

Every schoolópublic or privateówill have students fall behind. It is the schools that recognize the problem and find a solution that truly make a difference in education. Traditionally, when students fail a course they are required to recover their credits in summer school. Credit recovery means a student will not fall behind his or her classmates come fall. For too long, Christian schools have either avoided offering summer school or settled for referring students to non-Christian options for credit recovery. In both cases, Christian schools miss out on the opportunity to fulfill their mission with their current students and reach new families with Christian education. It is understandable; summer school is expensive, summer staffing can be difficult to secure, and of course, there is the question of access to adequate facilities during the summer.

A model for a Christian summer school

Summer school instilled with Christian values is about accountability, opportunity, and ministry.

  • Accountability. Summer school provides accountability for when a student’s grades do not reach the school’s academic requirements. Through summer school students are allowed to redeem themselves and recover the failed credit.
  • Opportunity. Summer school provides an opportunity for some students to get ahead academically. These courses provide a chance for a student to take required courses outside of the school year and grow academically. A Christian summer school provides an opportunity for growth. A school has the opportunity to increase its value to current families and community members by offering additional academic services to its students. Providing such a service may also attract new students, creating the opportunity to build relationships, and result in new enrollments in the school.
  • Ministry. At the core of a Christian education is ministry. A Christian school that frames its summer school program with a Christian teaching staff and Christ-centered curriculum not only extends its ministry of Christian education to current students, but also opens the door to connect with new students seeking options for the summer months. A recent survey of Christian schools who partner with Sevenstar showed that 40 percent of summer school students enroll full-time at their school.

The summer school online solution

The pros outweigh the cons when Christian schools offer an online summer school program. Until now, implementing a summer school program has been challenging for Christian schools. Because of staffing, finances, or space concerns, students often are sent to a public summer school. This gap in a Christian education can be filled with online learning. With online learning, Christian schools have found that they can quickly, easily, and cost-effectively deliver a summer school program that raises the academic bar, improves school competitiveness, and expands the ministry of Christian education.

The benefits of online learning for Christian summer school programs

  • Online courses require fewer faculty resources.
  • Online classes can be taken whenever a student has free time, at home, during school, or on the road.
  • Online credit recovery is adaptable. Students will not waste time reviewing skills they have already mastered.
  • Online learning now integrates Christian values. As online learning has emerged to prove its need in the classroom, Christian educators have merged faith with this technology.

A Christian School Educator’s Guide to Summer School Online

Online learning can be used to revive or start a summer school program at a Christian school. Learn more about it in our new white paper, Online Opportunities for Christian Schools. Download this free resource for Christian educators using the link below.

Sevenstar Google+

This guest blog entry was originally posted on the Sevenstar Blog and re-posted here. I have agreed to periodically post these entries over the course of the summer. Comments have been closed on this entry, but if you want to interact with the author please visit the original entry.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today (minus the EDTECH597 entry posted first thing this morning).

Next Page »

The Rubric Theme Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,300 other followers