Virtual School Meanderings

April 18, 2012

K-12 Online Learning And The Seventeenth National Congress On Rural Education

This came through my inbox while I was attending AERA:

Cyber classes keep rural schools alive
Western Producer
The Chinook Cyber School has since developed a relationship with 18 schools in an area the size of Nova Scotia and with 14 teachers who help it deliver 54 …

After exploring the article, I discovered the Seventeenth National Congress On Rural Education, which occurred at the end of March in Saskatchewan.  In looking through the program, it appears there was some interesting K-12 online learning content – including these sessions:

Partnerships Create Opportunities – Thinking Outside the Box
Angela Clement, Shelby Budd – Val Marie School, Chinook Cyber School, Chinook School Division

Val Marie School is a typical small town school experiencing declining enrolment and decrease in staff. Through a partnership with Chinook Cyber School, Val Marie has been able to enhance their school programming for high school students. Val Marie has been able to maintain the benefits of a small town school and yet provide learning opportunities comparable to a larger center by accessing online courses. In turn, Val Marie offers programming to students throughout Chinook by delivering Chemistry 20 and Agriculture Technician‐Cow/Calf Production 10 and 20. Angela Clement, Principal of Val Marie School and teacher of the Cow/Calf program and Shelby Budd, Principal of the Chinook Cyber School will share their unique partnership successes and challenges throughout the past three years.

Innovative Partnerships in Distance Education
Darren Gasper, Shari Martin, Keith Willoughby – Sun West Distance Learning Centre, Edwards School of Business U of S

In this session we will discuss several partnerships that the Sun West Distance Learning Centre has formed to benefit students across the division and province, including a partnership with the Edwards School of Business on an Introduction to Business course, and a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture around the Green Certificate program.

Providing Equitable Educational Opportunities to Schools of All Sizes Across A School Division
Darren Gasper, Marcy Waldner, Kurtis Heath, Jade Ballek, Doug Klassen – Kenaston School, Sun West Distance Learning Centre

In this session we will discuss the model of delivery that Sun West uses in its distance education programming to provide a broad range of courses to schools of various sizes across the division so that all students in Sun West have access to any of the courses available. We will also discuss the support mechanisms used to help increase student success in the courses.

Enhancing Technology‐based Course Delivery: There is no magic bullet
Glenn Cockerline, Mike Nantais – Brandon University

This presentation focuses on what has been learned about online learning in Southwest Manitoba. Three separate studies recently conducted at Brandon University looked at: 1) the high school teacher’s perspectives of online learning, 2) the high school student’s perspectives of online learning, and 3) learning modalities and online learning. Basically, there is no magic bullet when it comes to online learning. However, when looked at jointly, these studies provide a multifaceted snapshot of online learning. Key findings of each study will be highlighted, then session participants will be asked to join in a conversation about their experiences in relation to these studies.

Improving Educational Opportunities for Rural Students: Systemic Reforms in Times of Declining Enrollment
Brent Kay – Orange Southwest Supervisory Union, Vermont, USA

Since 2002, the Orange Southwest Supervisory Union (OSSU) has realized a 24% decrease in student enrollment, yet it has demonstrated significant systemic improvements in the areas of student outcomes, educational leadership, governance, recruitment and retention of staff, technology integration, and facility improvements. Fiscally, the OSSU is pending, in actual dollars, less than it did 7 years ago, generated over $5 million in reserves, invested over $2 million in new technology (last four years) and over $4 million in facility upgrades (last five years), significantly improved teacher compensation, and significantly increased the number of learning pathways for students (Dual enrollment, Virtual High School, Articulation Agreements with High Education, etc…). The presentation will explore the systemic changes over the last decade that enabled the OSSU’s successes.

If anyone attended the conference and has notes on any of these sessions, please leave them in the comments below.


  1. Hi Michael. I happened across your blog post just today. My name is Shelby Budd -I was one do the presenters at the Rural Congress in Saskatoon. So many great sessions on how technology can be used to support our small schools.

    Comment by sbudd42 — July 27, 2012 @ 10:25 am | Reply

    • * of – not do. I should never try to type early in the morning.

      Comment by sbudd42 — July 27, 2012 @ 10:34 am | Reply

    • Shelby, thanks for the comment. I will be contacting you via e-mail in the next week or so about a research project, the State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada (see, that I am working on.

      Comment by mkbnl — July 28, 2012 @ 8:55 am | Reply

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