Virtual School Meanderings

May 26, 2015

IES Grant to Study K-12 Online Learning

bad-science-1-in-3-bad-scientistsYou may have noticed over the weekend in the regular installment of the Virtual Schooling in the News feature, it was announced that “researchers from University of Michigan, Stanford and University of California, Davis have received a $1.6 million grant to conduct a three-year study of virtual schooling.”

The two items included over the weekend (i.e., one a blog entry and the other the UC Davis notice), along with two others I was able to find quickly (i.e., the notices from Michigan and Stanford) included:

Like any researcher in the field, I welcome this news and this kind of funding.  However, there are some issues that I want to raise to question the usefulness of this line of inquiry.

“The study will explore how virtual schooling options affect students’ course progression, academic achievement and teacher effectiveness.”

“Researchers will examine data for virtual and face-to-face schools in Florida from 2003 through 2014. In addition, they’ll collect additional data through surveys from students and teachers in the Florida Virtual School and from students and teachers at Miami Dade County Public Schools.”

“‘We will also ask the students about the support they receive from teachers, such as feedback and encouragement,’ Hart said. ‘And we will ask teachers about the support they receive from administrators, such as curricular materials and real-time coaching.'”

“’As online learning options multiply, little is known about how well such courses serve K12 students,’ said Susanna Loeb (link is external), the Barnett Family Professor of Education at Stanford and faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (link is external), said. ‘Our project will explore how access to online courses affects students’ test scores, course grades and progression.’”

I guess the first thing to take issue with is the comment, “As online learning options multiply, little is known about how well such courses serve K12 students” – as anyone who is familiar with the field knows that we do know a fair amount about how students do in supplemental and full-time online learning environments and what kinds of students have success without the appropriate supports.

Beyond this fallacy there are a couple of things that are problematic about this line of inquiry…  As I read it above, there are up to five research questions (maybe more):

  1. How access to online courses affects students’ test scores?
  2. How access to online courses affects students’ course grades?
  3. How access to online courses affects students’ progression?
  4. What factors affect teacher effectives in online courses?
  5. What support do online students receive from teachers?

Those in the field of K-12 online learning may see the first problem…  The first three questions are absolutely useless to the field.  There is no way that the researchers could control for all of the student variables to be able to determine whether it was the online learning that cause any changes they might find.  Even if they were able to control all of those factors (and that is a HUGE “if”), there is no way to control for the fact that teaching in a face-to-face manner is simply different than teaching in an online fashion!  As such, the researchers will never be able to determine if it was the fact that the students were online or the changes that naturally occur in the instructional design or the pedagogical delivery of the content that had the real impact on students’ test scores, course grades, and progression.  So the bottom line is that on the first three questions the answer basically is that it will depend on the individual circumstances and, regardless of the findings, it doesn’t matter!  The medium of delivery has no impact on student performance!!!

Now the fourth question is an interesting one, as it begs the question… what is effective?  How do we determine an effective online teacher from an ineffective online teacher?  Is it based on course completion?  Test scores?  Online classroom observation?  The virtual school’s say so?  Plus what teacher are we talking about here…  Is it the online teacher that delivers the course?  Or maybe the influence of the teacher(s) or other professional(s) that designed the online course content?  Or maybe it is based on the influence of the local school-based teacher that helps facilitate the student while they are learning online?  See the problem…

Really it is only the final question that has any real face validity to it!  And this is the biggest problem that we have within the field of K-12 online learning right now.  We don’t have a lot of scholars that are researching K-12 online learning and there are very few projects that receive any substantial funding.  And when we finally see some funding being put into researching the field, much of the actual research is focused on problematic and/or useless information that will do little to nothing to move the field forward.

VLN Primary School – Term 2 May Update

One for my Kiwi readers…

VLN Primary School 
Term Two May Update 2015
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VLN Primary School

Kia ora koutou

Thanks for reading our VLN Primary School newsletters. Our goal is to:
 Connect Schools for Enhanced Learning Outcomes.
In this newsletter we update you on our recent AGM, talk about our small rural schools, share the buzz on Prince Harry’s recent NZ visit, give you a heads up on whats coming up and a shout out for teachers to join us in teaching online.
“Children will learn from many people and places and not just the teacher in their own classroom or school. We need to look for more community involvement supporting learning and sharing of expert teachers across schools; more opportunities for tuakana/teina and students leading learning; more global education, where our children learn from others and develop cultural understandings. Children will access personalised learning pathways – learning what they want, with who they want, when they want to. Your role as their home school teachers will be to make sure they have sound foundation skills in place (literacy, numeracy, key competencies) to enable them to excel in their learning and to help them navigate and access a wider world of learning. This is my vision for a future of learning.”

ePrincipal Report AGM
Thanks to all who attended our recent AGM. The VLN Primary School operates as a Charitable Trust; the support of our participating schools, partner organisations and ‘champions’ from across the educational and elearning sector enables us to keep operating and extend the learning options for all our children. Special thanks to Rick Whalley (Core Education) and Lorraine Makutu (Mangere Central School) who have stepped down from their trusteeship roles and welcome to new trustees Wayne Howes (Moanataiari School) and Dr. Michael Barbour (Conneticut, USA). We will introduce them in our next newsletter. Big thanks to Geoff Wood (Rosmini College) who has stepped up to take on the Chairperson role in the Governance Group; and Kath Johnson (Halfmoon Bay School) and Jarad Chittenden (Matapu School) continue as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.

The Governance Group has a big task ahead to review our strategic directions and to continue to work for sustainable resourcing – as of December 2015 the VLN Primary School has no continued funding from the Ministry of Education. For more information read the AGM reports from the Chairperson andePrincipal.

How exciting to have Prince Harry visiting Halfmoon Bay School and ask specifically to see an online class in action. Harry joined German class, taught by Stephanie Michel from Kaimata in Taranaki and with students from Stewart Island as well as Orere School and Kaponga School. The students, and staff of the participating schools were very surprised and excited to hear of their visitor when they arrived at school.The students all greeted Harry in German and he was asked whether he knew any German. He replied that he can’t speak German, that he had learnt French at school but had forgotten most of it and that he would love to learn Spanish. Harry stayed for 10 minutes chatting to students before he had to leave to join with the activities planned for him at Halfmoon Bay School.
Check out Kath’s Storify – a collection of great images and stories about Prince Harry’s visit.

Rural and Remote Schools Project Presents

Well done to Kath Johnson (Halfmoon Bay), Keryl Lee (Makuri) & Jen Vincent (Marco) who presented alongside Rachel (in the picture below, left to right) at the recent Sole Charge & Teaching Principals’ Conference in Havelock North. You can view their presentation here.

Rural & Remote Project Principals

Principals from the Rural & Remote Schools Projects were able to meet face to face and discussthe Camp to Wellington coming up in November. Principals at conference were invited to share information about their Y7/8 numbers with a view to starting up a new cohort in this Project – watch this space. NZPF President Denise Torrey, who was speaking at conference, describes our Rural Principals as the ‘rural backbone’ of the profession. Principals in turn expressed the unique concerns of rural schools particularly around staffing and access to resourcing to support collaborative initiatives between their geographically distributed schools. NZPF has promised to follow up and advocate around the concerns of our sole charge and small rural schools.
Heads Up for Next Semester, Starting Term 3.

Now is the time for schools who have been considering their participation to make contact and prepare their students for Semester Two learning opportunities. Check out our recorded Taster Class session to see how our online classes work.  To book a taster class session, expressions of interest or queries please Contact Ginette. 

The following learning opportunities are available next term, with more confirmed classes and calls for enrolments invited in our next newsletter.
Language Classes – te Reo Māori, Mandarin, French, Spanish, German, Afrikaans – students are welcome to participate in any of these classes.  If you want to introduce learning languages in your classroom or school, this is a great way to start. We invite interest from schools for individual students, small groups or whole class participation.

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming with Scratch
A fun introduction to computing with opportunities to practice problem solving and technological modelling skills through the creation of interactive animations, stories and games. Follow this link for more information. 

VLN Primary School activities – online classes and projects are open for all NZ schools to participate. Please read our Protocols of Participation for specific details on how to participate and what costs are involved.

Shout Out to prospective new eTeachers –  put up your Hand!

eTeacher Shout Out

We are seeking new eteachers to train to work with our students. Preference will be given to NZ registered teachers, and those with elearning skills and experience. However if you have a strong interest, knowledge and skills of the types of programmes we want to offer our student PLZ make contact with Rachel. eTeaching is highly flexible, challenging, and rewarding. Teachers can be contributed by their employing school in return for their students participation; or be contracted by the VLN Primary for their time. This would be suitable for teachers who are teaching part time or are out of school with a young family, or semi-retired.
We are specifically seeking teachers for: Te Reo Māori Kuki Airani, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, French, Spanish, Maths, Science, and Astronomy.

Keep an eye out for our next newsletter which will have news on our Asian Languages Project, profiles of our new trustees, new online programmes and a call for participation. Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and school communities.

Ngā mihi nui

Thanks to our supporters:


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You are receiving this email through your association with the VLN Primary School.

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May 25, 2015

[CSSE-SCÉÉ] Pre-Conference Workshop

Another item from Friday’s inbox…

French Follows

Dear CSSE Members:

CERA is excited to offer two pre-conference workshops this year at CSSE! All CSSE members are welcome and encouraged to register for one of these workshops, which are held on Saturday May 30th, 2015. The workshops are:

  1. An Introduction to Social Network Analysis(Half Day Workshop: 8:30am – 11:30am)

Joelle Rodway Macri

Costs: CERA members: $35 students; $65 faculty

Non-CERA member: $40 students; $75 faculty

  1. Mixed Research: Pursuing Rigour to Achieve Ethicality(Full Day Workshop: 8:30am – 4:30pm)

Julie Corrigan & Anthony Onwuegbuzie, With Normand Péladeau as a guest presenter

Costs: CERA members: $60 students; $85 faculty

Non-CERA member: $65 students; $95 faculty

Please register in-advance for a workshop by May 26th. To register for these workshops go to Log into your Membership Services then select Workshop under “Registration”. You can pay by credit.

The workshops will be conducted in English. More information on these workshops are available on the attached flyer.




Christopher DeLuca, PhD

Assistant Professor


Queen’s University, Faculty of Education

A218 Duncan McArthur Hall  |  511 Union Street  |  Kingston, ON, Canada  |  K7M 5R7

Tel: 613.533.6000 ext. 77675 |  Web:


Chers membres de la SCÉÉ,


À ce stade, l’ACCÉ aimerions attirer votre attention sur deux ateliers pré-conférence passionnants. Ces ateliers auront lieu le samedi 30 mai, 2015.


  1. Une introduction à l’analyse des réseaux sociaux.  Samedi, 8h30 à 11h30

Joelle Rodway Macri

Coûts: membre de l’ACCÉ: $ 35 pour étudiant; $ 65 pour professeur

Non-membre de l’ACCÉ: $ 40 pour étudiant; $ 75 pour professeur

  1. Recherche mixte : Poursuivre la rigueur afin d’atteindre l’éthicalitéSamedi, 8 h30 à 16h30

Julie Corrigan et Anthony Onwuegbuzie, avec Normand Péladeau comme présentateur invité.

Coûts: membre de l’ACCÉ: $ 60 pour étudiant; $ 85 pour professeur

Non-membre de l’ACCÉ: $ 65 pour étudiant; $ 95 pour professeur


Nous vous demandons de vous inscrire en avance pour les ateliers de la pré-conférence. Pour vous inscrire à ces ateliers, vous rendre à Connectez-vous à vos services aux membres, puis sélectionnez l’atelier en question sous la rubrique «Inscription». Vous pouvez payer par carte de crédit.


Les ateliers se dérouleront en anglais. Plus d’informations sur ces ateliers sont disponibles sur le dépliant ci-joint.



Christopher DeLuca, PhD

Assistant Professor


Queen’s University, Faculty of Education

A218 Duncan McArthur Hall  |  511 Union Street  |  Kingston, ON, Canada  |  K7M 5R7

Tel: 613.533.6000 ext. 77675 |  Web:
CSSE mailing list


Attachment: CERA Pre-conference Workshops

[EDEN-News] EDEN 2015 June Barcelona – Just Three Weeks Ahead!

From Friday’s inbox…

Circular head

EDEN 2015 Annual Conference: #EDEN15
Latest Conference News – Register Now!

Barcelona, 9-12 June 2015

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The EDEN 2015 Annual Conference is soon to open its gates: More than 300 delegates registered already, from over 40 countries. Join now!

register now

The Conference will be opened by Mr. Lluís Jofre, Director General of Universities and Research, Government of Catalonia.

At the Conference Welcome Reception, Mr. Gerard Ardanuy, Deputy Mayor of Education and Universities of the Barcelona City Council will give an opening address.

New Keynote Speaker Joined

Alan Tait, Director, International Development and Teacher Education, The Open University, United Kingdom
From Distance Learning to Open Education: A Changing Landscape

Have a look at this page to see more about what do the keynotes talk about.

See here the detailed programme of the Conference.

Programme Appetisers

Reflections and Discussion Between Delegates and the Keynotes Speakers
Moderator: Don Olcott, Charles Sturt University, Australia

Workshop: Expanded Learning Scenarios of Best Practice in the U.S.

Workshop: Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education for the Future We Want: From Statements to Action: Policy Challenges – The European Voice

Workshop: Lost in Transition? D-TRANSFORM as a Compass for the use of ICT to Transform the Higher Education System

Linked Events for Opening the Landscape of the Conference

Recognising Excellence

Networking at Social Events Organised in Fabolous Settings

net brpa prp

Read more…

Read more…

Read more…

Hints for Barcelona

The Conference Dinner – hosted by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya – on 11 June, with musical performance (Mediterranean jazz), will be organised in Royal Palace of Pedralbes, the former residence of the royal family of Spain. Today two museums are housed here, furthermore its gardens are highly acclaimed for their beauty.


A few steps from busy Avinguda Diagonal lies this small enchanting green space. Sculptures, fountains, citrus trees, bamboo groves, fragrant eucalyptus, towering cypresses and bougainvillea-covered nooks lie scattered along the paths criss-crossing these peaceful gardens. Read more…

The EDEN Best Research Paper Award will be presented at the event.

Follow and use our #EDEN15 hashtag and prepare to join the Community face to face in the inspiring city of Barcelona!


For any conference related questions, contact the
Conference Secretariat at


EDEN – European Distance and E-Learning Network Secretariat
Tel: +36 1 463 1628, 463 2537 Fax: +36 1 463 1858

EDEN-News mailing list

22 May 2015: Google Alert – LRN

The K12, Inc. corporate alert from this past Friday…


As-it-happens update ⋅ May 22, 2015
Hot Watch List: Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC), Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG

LRN EPS growth in last 5 year was 3.50%. K12, Inc. (NYSE:LRN) year to date (YTD) performance is 19.80%. On 11 May, K12, Inc. (NYSE:LRN) …
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As-it-happens update ⋅ May 22, 2015
Stock price: LRN (NYSE)
$14.05 -0.17 (-1.20%)
May 22, 2015 at 4:03:37 PM EDT | Disclaimer
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