Virtual School Meanderings

July 13, 2009

Online Learning & Dual Credit: A Case Of “I Don’t Want To Grow Up”?

inacolThis was posted to one of the iNACOL forums and I thought that some of my readers might like to comment.

On Tuesday, June 30, I heard Ron Packard (CEO and founder of K12) at a gathering offsite from NECC 2009 in Washington DC predict that the combination of the needs of the changes in our service-based economy and the rise of truly individualized education through technology and changes in teacher’s approach to education will result in a compression of “normal” high school from 4 to 3 years and “normal” baccalaureate degrees from 4-5 years to 3 years.

He said some students are already being allowed to accelerate and graduate by ages 12-15. What I found fascinating about his prediction is not so much the prediction about high school education norm dropping from 4 to 3 years and his comment that “the lines between high school education and a college education” will become very blurred in the coming years.”

My education career is more rooted in higher education (although I teach in K-12 and higher ed), and I have long thought that, if possible, high education should largely be responsible for reforming high school education so that more high school students would graduate from high school strongly prepared to CONTINUE their college education.

What do readers think about Packard’s prediction of 1) the “shrinking” of the normative years to complete high school and a bachelor’s degrees and that 2) high school and college education will become highly blended?

clipperThe notion of dual credit courses is not new be any stretch of the imagine.  One that I am somewhat familiar with is the Clipper Project at Lehigh University (and the main reason I know about that is because one of my dissertation co-chairs, Tom Reeves, was an external evaluator on the project – and I’ve tried to find this evaluation report online as it used to be available, but even the Internet Archive is a no go for it now).  This is an example of an online program where high school seniors can take university courses for university credit.  Note for an interesting piece of research done on the Clipper Project, take a look at this Educause Quarterly article.

In thinking about this notion, I recognize the value in accelerating high school and making these kinds of learning opportunities available to our better students.  My concern is the blurring of the lines between high school and university.  Let’s face us, based upon the only generational difference that we can reliably and validly determine, our undergraduate students in university act more and more like high school adolescents all of the time.  Does the blurring of the lines between high school and university further make the transition from adolescent to adulthood an even muddier stage of life where our twenty-somethings become the new adolescents that have to be cared for like the snowflakes they are because they refuse to grow up and make the jump to adulthood.

I mean the undergraduate degree is the new high school diploma (as evidenced by research projects like Declining by Degrees and Ivory Tower Blues).  And it isn’t because the economy has such a demand for so many more well educated, highly skilled people than it did a decade or two ago (and even if it did, the undergraduate degree isn’t going to provide that because universities have had to dumb down so much of what they do because of the snowflake effect and the grade inflation – did you really think it was because there are so many great students these days?).

So, while I do appreciate the need for these kinds of dual credit programs for the truly gifted students, I wonder if the value of these programs (online or face-to-face) have been lost because of the other factors that have served to make a university educated person today about as educated as a high school graduate from twenty years ago?

Anyway, that’s my rant for the week…  What do yo think about the use of online education as a way to compress high school and university education?  How about the blurring of the lines between high school and university?

July 7, 2009

iNACOL Special Edition Webinar Series

NACOL Special Edition Webinar

Special Edition Webinar Series:
“Starting an Online School or Online Program”

Starting an online school or online program is a many-faceted challenge, even for seasoned educators. This four-part webinar series will present a framework for starting an online program by identifying the key issues that must be addressed and which types of issues need to be addressed first. Topics such as selection of a Learning Management System (LMS) and other administrative systems; selecting content and developing courses; teacher recruitment, preparation, and support; student support; and access issues will be discussed during this series. Attend the entire series, or just a specific session or sessions that meets your needs!

Session 1 – July 16 (3PM ET)
“First Level and Second Level Decisions”
The first webinar in the series will present an overview of the process of establishing an online school or online program. A framework that identifies the various issues to be addressed will be presented, along with information on which are the first series of decisions to make and which are the second series of decisions to make. In addition, there will be a discussion on how to select a Learning Management System (LMS) and other administrative systems for your school. Panelists for the session have all had experience in starting a virtual school and look forward to sharing the lessons they have learned.

Curt Fuchs, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Bryan Setser, North Carolina Virtual Public School
Matthew Wicks, Matthew Wicks & Associates

Session 2 – July 21 (3PM ET)
“Selecting Content and Curriculum Development”

One of the most important aspects of any online program is its course content. There are a variety of options when it comes to establishing your program’s curriculum, ranging from developing all of your own content, to licensing all of your own content, to utilizing modules from providers, and to utilizing open educational resources. The panelists for this session will discuss the various options and what factors lead to making specific decisions.

Dawn Nordine, Wisconsin Virtual School
Chris Rapp, Idaho Digital Learning Academy
Terri Rowenhorst, Monterey Institute for Technology and Education

Session 3 – July 23 (3PM ET)
“Teacher Recruitment, Preparation, and Support”

As is the case with any educational program, the quality of the teacher is critical to student success. However, just because a teacher has classroom experience, does not mean he or she will be an effective online teacher. This session will provide important information about effective practices in identify, selecting, preparing, and supporting quality online teachers.


Session 4 – July 28 (3PM ET)
“Student Support and Access Issues”

The structures of online programs are often very different from those of traditional schools. While sometimes traditional support structures will work, often new and innovative methods for student support must be established for the online school. This panel will discuss the various challenges in proving student support in an online area and the methods used to provide that support.


Register Now

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July 4, 2009

SIIA Survey Finds U.S. Making Some Progress Toward

inacolSince I posted a number of messages encouraging folks to participate in this survey (see Reminder: SIIA Vision K20 Survey Ends on June 15th for most recent example), it seems only appropriate that I post the results. This taken from one of the iNACOL forums.

SIIA Survey Finds U.S. Making Some Progress Toward the Vision K-20 for Technology-Rich Schools and Universities
By: PR Newswire
Jun. 29, 2009 08:23 AM

Findings Reinforce Need for Increased Investment, Leadership and Support to Ensure the Nation’s Educational System Can Innovate and Compete

WASHINGTON, June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) today released the findings of an annual national education survey used to measure U.S. educational institutions’ progress toward achieving the SIIA Vision for K-20. The survey was developed to help educators and administrators individually benchmark their institutional progress in using technology to provide 21st century tools, anytime/anywhere access, differentiated learning, assessment tools, and enterprise support. The aggregated results also provide a picture of our nation’s progress as a whole.

As the voice of the educational technology industry, SIIA developed this vision for K-20 education – a vision to ensure that all students have access to a technology-enabled teaching and learning environment capable of preparing them to compete globally and lead the world in innovation. A successful pilot survey was initiated in 2008, and a follow up survey was conducted in spring 2009.


July 3, 2009

USDOE Is Developing New Educational Technology Plan

inacolAnother item posted a few days ago to one of the iNACOL forums.

iNACOL encourages all members to contribute to the following…

The U.S. Department of Education is developing a new National Educational Technology Plan to provide a vision for how information and communication technologies can help transform American education. The plan will provide a set of concrete goals that can inform state and local educational technology plans as well as inspire research, development, and innovation. A draft plan is expected in early 2010.

It is being developed by the U.S. Department of Education with support from the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International, a nonprofit research organization. This website is hosted by SRI International for the U.S. Department of Education.

Register @ to join the conversation. Discussion closes on 7/12/09.

Indiana Legislators Finally Pass State Budget – Includes New Virtual School Pilot

inacolThis was posted a few days ago to one of the iNACOL forums.

Legislators finally pass state budget — 2 years, $27.8B

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s lawmakers passed a $27.8 billion, two-year budget Tuesday that supporters touted as a triumph in a recession.

Critics said it came at the expense of students in urban and rural districts.

The Democrat-controlled House voted 62-37 for the budget, with 14 of the 52 Democrats joining all 48 Republicans in supporting it. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 34-16, with four Democrats joining 30 of the 33 Republicans in voting for the plan.

Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the budget into law at 8:05 p.m., less than four hours before the previous budget expired, averting a government shutdown.

Daniels, in a statement, said that while the budget has defects, “it meets the fundamental condition I laid down in January and every day since: to limit spending enough to preserve our surplus and thereby protect taxpayers against the tax increases happening in virtually every other state.”

The budget keeps $1 billion in Indiana’s reserves.

Opponents, though, said the money could have been tapped to ensure no school district would see a funding cut. They also were upset about dollars shifting from schools with declining enrollments, which typically are urban and rural, to growing school districts, typically suburban.

And they chafed that the budget directs dollars to alternatives to public education, starting a pilot project for virtual online schools and creating a $2.5 million a year tax credit that benefits private schools.

Overall, the plan gives public schools a 1.1 percent increase in state funding in 2010 and a 0.3

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