Virtual School Meanderings

January 30, 2012

K-12 Online Learning And The Consortium For School Networking 2012 K-12 Technology Leadership Conference

I’m not quite sure how I became aware of this conference, but The Consortium For School Networking 2012 K-12 Technology Leadership Conference is happening 5-7 March 2012 in Washington, DC.  I took some time late last week to scan the program and see what K-12 online learning sessions I was able to find.

Tuesday | March 6, 2012

9:45 am – 10:15 am

• Building Strong Leaders with Digital Learning
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has embarked on an ambitious path to provide their highly effective training for leaders in an online format, working in partnership with Education Development Center’s EdTech Leaders Online who helped them develop capacity to design and deliver online professional development (OPD) specifically for school leaders. The training prepares school leaders to guide comprehensive school reform, and build collaborative leadership and learning communities. Providing OPD for leaders enables anytime, anywhere learning while introducing them to the tools and techniques of digital learning and the change from print to digital. This addresses the 10 Essential Skills including Leadership & Vision, Instructional Focus & PD, and others.

Bob Farrace, Senior Director, Communications and Development
National Association of Secondary School Principals
Barbara Treacy, Director, EdTech Leaders Online
Education Development Center

11:00 am- 12:00 pm

• Intercultural Literacy through Videoconferencing
Tallwood High School is using innovative, interactive videoconferencing (IVC) technology through a partnership with Global Nomads Group (GNG) to enhance student learning. IVC’s provide a deeper connection to pressing global issues through virtual, student exchanges called “Exchange 2.0.” Students learn to think on their feet, become confident public speakers, and come to see themselves as global citizens. Conference participants will learn how to effectively integrate IVC technology into existing curricula; view videoconferences that highlight student interaction and intercultural collaboration; and learn about GNG, Tallwood’s partner in providing cross-cultural videoconferencing programs.

Gayle Hartigan, Computer Resource Specialist, VBCPS
Tallwood High School
Tonya Muro Phillips, Director of Programs
Global Nomads Group

• Evaluating Vermont’s Ed-Tech Program: Challenges and Strategies
Virtual High School Global Consortium (VHS), in partnership with AIR, is enhancing its Teacher Information System through which it characterizes, tracks, and evaluates teachers and their performance. The presentation will provide an overview of the data components that comprise VHS’s teacher information system; examine VHS’s teacher evaluation process; and highlight recent efforts to expand this system. The latter include strategies such as analyzing course records and deriving useful information about teaching practices, revising survey items to improve their alignment to standards of quality online teaching, and developing a tool to organize information and make it readily accessible. Results of this project can serve as a guide for directors and evaluators of online learning programs.

Peter Drescher, State Educational Technology Director
Vermont Department of Education
Briana Kleidon, Research Associate
American Institutes for Research
Jonathan Margolin, Senior Researcher
American Institutes for Research

• Creating a Model Global School
Oxford Community Schools in Oakland County, Michigan, is providing leadership and vision to deliver “… world-class education today to shape tomorrow’s selfless, global leaders” (source: district’s vision statement).  The strategy is “to provide a world-class education that challenges all students to achieve their maximum potential and prepares them to succeed in a global society” (source: district’s mission statement).  Over the last several years, the district has created a model global school where we prepare our students to compete in a global society.   Rather than striving to compete with students in our state or country, we want our students to compete worldwide. The district added a Fifth Core™ subject area and requires an instructional focus on languages. Classes in either Spanish or Chinese are required every day, just like any other core subject, in grades K-10. All schools are becoming International Baccalaureate (IB) certified.  All elementary schools will follow the IB Primary Years Programme, the middle school will follow the IB Middle Years Programme, and the high schools will follow the IB Diploma Programme.  An International Residence Academy opened in August 20. Every class will be taught in a hybrid-type fashion and will include both face-to-face and online instructional components. This blended approach to education requires a strong commitment to information technology management to support the infrastructure and communication systems needed. The district is committed to professional development in the support of all of the initiatives, including IB training, Model Schools, and an online school of professional learning.

Timothy Throne, Executive Director Of Strategic Initiatives & Technology
Oxford Community Schools

•  Virtual Summer School: Prevent Summer Loss
Summer loss has plagued education for decades. How can we utilize software to provide summer enrichment activities for students to prevent this loss? How can we encourage parents to become a learning coach for their child throughout the summer?

Cory Tressler, Director of Virtual Learning
Beaufort County School District

• Infuse Your Students with 21st Century Skills With Virtual Learning Labs
Do your classrooms still model those of the 1920s?  Twenty-five desks, all in neat rows, teacher at the helm trying to engage each and every student?  Throughout Florida, school districts and individual schools are bringing virtual education to students through the concept of a Florida Virtual School virtual learning lab. Join us, and enter the world of the VLL, a model concept for the 21st century student.  Virtual Learning Labs are the result of leadership and vision focused on reimagining learning.

Barbara Cavanaugh, District Relations Manager
Florida Virtual School
Polly  Hadleman, Senior Manager
Florida Virtual School
Karen Ross, Communication Specialist
Florida Virtual School

2:00 pm – 2:50 pm

• Online Project Based Learning for At-Risk Youth
The W-A-Y Program is a personalized learning experience for students who struggle with traditional high school. The program offers an alternative approach to education; one that encourages self-esteem, independence, and the development of 21st century skills that will facilitate a college education and subsequent career paths. Each student is equipped with an iMac workstation and Internet connectivity within his or her home. We combine personalized, project-based, online learning experiences with face-to-face interaction. Our staff is invested in the success of each student, providing support 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, all year round. We constantly work towards realizing the potential in every individual. Session presenters will describe the implementation of this program at both the local district level and the intermediate school district level.

Bethany Rayl, Regional Executive
Way Program
Rich Klemm, Director of Non-Traditional Education
Niles Community Schools
Monique Uzelac, W-A-Y Washtenaw Program Director
Washtenaw Intermediate School District

3:40 pm – 4:30 pm

• Closing the Gap: Turning SIS/LMS Data into Action
In the current era of maximizing accountability, school leaders are increasingly being asked to make classroom-level student data available in forms that are usable in improving instructional practices. These demands require that schools and districts purchase and become proficient in using increasingly sophisticated software systems. Two of these tools—student information systems (SIS) and learning management systems (LMS)—have the capacity to store and analyze large amounts of student data, but educators seeking to buy and install these systems are confronted with a bewildering array of products, features and technical specifications. AASA, CoSN and Gartner, Inc., are in collaboration in a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant titled Closing the Gap: Turning SIS/LMS Data into Action in support of leveraging student data to strengthen classroom instruction. The session provides a summary of the resources to be provided to the K-12 educational community.

Ann Ware,  Closing the Gap Project Manager
Consortium for School Networking

Wednesday | March 7, 2012

10:30 am – 11:30 am

•  Bridging Distance Education with Video Solutions
This session with demonstrate synchronous and asynchronous video solutions used by school districts across the state in the Nebraska Distance Education Network.

Gordon Roethemeyer, Director
Nebraska Distance Education Council
Mary Schlegelmilch, eLearning Supervisor, Curriculum & Learning
Omaha Public School

•  Data about Online Teachers: What to Get and How to Get It
In step with the 2012 CoSN Conference theme of “Reimagine Learning” Virtual High School Global Consortium, in partnership with American Institutes for Research, is leveraging digital tools to build a teacher evaluation system (TIS) for its online learning program. VHS is using this TIS to characterize, track, and evaluate teachers and their performance. The National Standards for Quality Online Teaching (iNACOL, 2008) serve as the framework for this effort. This presentation will address the challenges and opportunities of monitoring and evaluating teachers in the online environment, and provide concrete information management strategies.

Larry Friedman, Program Director, Policy
Learning Point
Jonathan Margolin, Senior Researcher
American Institutes for Research
Elizabeth Pape, President & CEO
Virtual High School Global Consortium

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm 

  Ensuring Continuity of Learning Through Online & Blended Learning
Recent events such as the H1N1 virus and Hurricane Katrina have district and state IT directors questioning their preparedness for ensuring continuity of learning. Online and blended learning are solutions for ensuring that learning continues during a school closure. Online learning and continuity of learning is more than just providing curriculum in an online format. It involves the planning, training, and management of delivery of instruction over a new technologically enabled delivery model. This involves three key areas: curriculum materials, people, and technology. The panelists will share resources and examples on how to help districts prepare for continuity of learning in the case of a school closure through cost-effective online and blended learning opportunities.

Allison Powell, Vice President
Bruce Friend, Director, SAS Curriculum Pathways

 An Overview of Technologies for Blended Learning
“Blended learning” is rapidly becoming a touchstone of those at the forefront of rethinking education. EdSurge, which covers emerging edtech innovations in a weekly newsletter, undertook a project for the Gates Foundation to survey and describe leading blended learning programs for grades K-8 as well as the tools that they are using to teach math and literacy. This talk will be an overview of the results of that study, a discussion of the most relevant tools and insights on how to learn more about this fast-changing element of education.

Elizabeth Corcoran, CEO

 Framework Essentials for a Hybrid DL School
A case study of Rio Rancho Cyber Academy, an accredited, diploma-granting 6-12th grade Hybrid Distance Learning (DL) School, will be presented to include teaching and learning foundations in an online school, processes and best practices, the role of governance and a model for effective governance.  All aspects of selecting vendors, managing resources, professional development, establishing short and long term goals and planning will be highlighted.  Processes for district implementation in order to sustain programs will also be defined.  In addition, attendees will gain knowledge about managing challenges, program implementation, management and sustainability, instructional design systems, teacher roles and leadership essentials will be presented.  Information will be given to meet formal accreditation standards in an online environment.

All aspects of creating, managing and implementing a Hybrid DL environment relate directly to CoSN’s Framework:  Leadership and vision essentials, strategic planning, educational foundations, and successful goal setting. Essential conditions managing technology and utilizing resources.

Elaine Manicke, Principal
Rio Rancho Cyber Academy
Heidi Parnell, Program Manager, Web Coordinator and Education Technology Specialist
Rio Rancho Cyber Academy

There doesn’t appear to be anything or much in the way of empirical research.  Some evaluation studies, and a lot of look and see what we are doing sessions.  But an interesting variety of sessions.


  1. Michael:

    I’ve been a member of CoSN for at least a decade, and have been involved in the Emerging Technologies Committee most of that time. CoSN is targeted at CTOs in K-12.

    This year’s conference happens concurrently with SITE, and SXSWedu, and so we’re working together to share the Keynote session that takes place Tuesday. There will also be some other connections between the individual conferences, and a social event with SITE and SXSWedu, since both are in Austin, and only a few blocks apart.


    Comment by Ray Rose — January 30, 2012 @ 9:52 am | Reply

    • Thanks for this additional information Ray. Looking forward to SITE this year, and seeing that community of researchers again.

      Comment by mkbnl — January 30, 2012 @ 10:05 am | Reply

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