Virtual School Meanderings

November 16, 2009

VSS 2009 – Welcome And Opening

vss_2009_headerWell, due to illness I am not able to attend the Virtual School Symposium in person, but thanks to the VSS Overlay (and in particular the Live Presentations feature) I am able to attend and blog about some of the sessions.

The conference began with a Welcome and Opening from Susan Patrick, the iNACOL President.  Susan outlined some of the activities of iNACOL over the past year – mentioning that the conference has 1500 participants, that iNACOL has released various reports throughout the past year, etc..

Susan than described attending an event in California and meeting a boy named Zack from the Florida Virtual School who had established the “Little Red Wagon Foundation“.

Susan than did her regular quick trip around the world, where she detailed the K-12 online learning activities in:

  • British Columbia, Canada – providing online learning opportunities to rural students
  • IB Diploma Programme Online – has created an online version of their international program
  • Turkey – 15 million K-12 students online
  • South Korea –  started a national virtual school
  • Middle East – contracting online content worldwide so their students have access to the best online courses
  • India – Educom (sp?) project / 10 year goal to provide universal online access to K-12 opportunities
  • Australia – 1:1 laptop initiative and looking to scale-up distance education to online learning
  • China – already has entire curriculum online, now in process of training teachers to teach online / 10 year goal to have 100 million K-12 students online
  • Singapore – 100% of all secondary schools use blended and online learning, and all teachers are trained to teach in this manner / have e-learning week once a year where they shut down schools and everything gets taught online

Susan again mentioned the World Future Society lists again, where virtual learning and distance education was number eight on the list of things that could have the biggest impact on society in the next 20-30 years.  She also highlighted some of the statistics from the United States:

  • 70% of school districts provide online learning opportunities
  • 45 states have significant K-12 online learning policy or activity
  • 29 states have state-wide programs
  • 20 states and DC allow full-time online learning

Apparently Idaho has become the second state to have an online teaching endorsement (the first was Georgia, which introduced it about a year or so ago).

Susan ended with a slide of “research” which focused on 1) online learning expands opportunity, 2) online learning is rapidly growing, and 3) students perform better in online learning.  I put research in quotes because if you actually examine the third item, there are many factors that cause that result.  It was similar to research a decade or two ago that found students who played an instrument performed better in school than students who didn’t.  The reality was the instrument had nothing to do with it, it was largely students who were in a SES group that allowed their parents to purchase them a musical instrument and pay for the lessons to learn it was the real cause.  The research that says students in online learning environments do better

  • fail to account for the fact that many K-12 online learning opportunities are targeted to higher ability students (e.g., AP and second language courses),
  • fail to account for the fact that many students who wouldn’t be successful in the online environment have dropped back into the brick-and-mortar setting,
  • fail to account for the fact that many of the studies reported used optional assessments as a way to make their comparisons (and other research has show that better students are more likely to be volunteer subjects),
  • just to name a few of the problems.

Unfortunately, I was not able to stay online to view the keynote – A Great Time to Be Learning Online, delivered by Tom Vander Ark (which I note was a last minute switch, as this wasn’t what was listed on the original VSS agenda), as I had to head out to the doctor’s office again.


  1. […] VSS 2009 – Welcome And Opening […]

    Pingback by Statistics For November 2009 « Virtual High School Meanderings — December 18, 2009 @ 9:07 am | Reply

  2. […] VSS 2009 – Welcome And Opening […]

    Pingback by K-12 Online Learning In South Korea – What Can We Learn? « Virtual School Meanderings — August 22, 2010 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

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