Virtual School Meanderings

April 2, 2010

SITE 2010: Online Synchronous Delivery Model Proves To Be A Successful Format For High School Students

SITEThe second brief paper during this final session of the Virtual Schooling SIG here at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) conference is described as:

Online Synchronous Delivery Model proves to be a successful Format for High School Students

Authors:
Margaret Dupuis, Learn Quebec, Canada

Abstract:
This submission describes a synchronous model that was developed in an effort to provide quality educational services to secondary students in the Province of Quebec, Canada. The original goal was to develop an online alternative that somewhat resembled the regular brick and mortar system. It was essential that the model provide the support needed for the content heavy Math and Science courses at the senior levels. With Ministry funding research was completed and in 2000 the first online Math 536 course was taught with very positive results. Since that time many changes and additions have been made but the synchronous aspects have always been maintained. The project has been transformed into a foundation and a beacon of excellence for the province providing services to over 100 000 users. The goal is to present the LEARN model and our findings.

In 1999, the Province of Quebec moved to a linguistic school board model.  At this time, distance education in the province was primarily at the higher education level and primary text-based correspondence education.  The initial project focused on the secondary grades (i.e., ages 14-17) in the areas of mathematics and science, and used synchronous because of some of the barriers against asynchronous instruction (including the belief that they were trying to replace teachers and also that there were no teachers who were trained to do this).

In September 2000, Learn Quebec began with a single mathematics class that had 12 students using Horizon Live (now Wimba) on a dial-up supported system.  Fast forward a decade, Learn Quebec is still using Wimba – although with better Internet access throughout their network (still not good enough to be able to use many of the video capabilities within Wimba).  Margaret focused her discussion of the present model on the tools available within the Wimba environment.

In addition to the synchronous model, they have also adopted an asynchronous course management system – Sakai.  They have been using their asynchronous content for both the online delivery that they do, but also as a resource for the brick-and-mortar teachers and students in the province.  Margaret then went through some of the features and resources that they have developed within their asynchronous content that is available to their online and brick-and-mortar teachers and students – which can be used for the online delivery, a blended delivery for the brick-and-mortar environment, and as a resource for students to use outside of the traditional school environment tool.

The program generally runs with approximately 60-140 students, depending on the year and the demand (primarily from rural schools).  In terms of student performance, over the past five years classroom-based students had a course averages of 73.5% in the courses offered by Learn Quebec and  76.1% in the online courses offered by Learn Quebec.

In terms of moving forward, they currently are involved in a study with the Ministry and they are some discussions toward a provincial virtual school – at least for the English-language courses (and probably the French-language ones too).

If you are interested in this program, their website is:

http://www.learnquebec.ca

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