Virtual School Meanderings

July 7, 2020

New From Ed Note: Data You Can Use: How Much Virtual Schooling Happened During the Pandemic?

This report may be of interest to some readers.

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Data You Can Use: How Much Virtual Schooling Happened During the Pandemic?

By Claus von Zastrow 
When school leaders cobbled together emergency distance learning plans in March and April, they knew they were turning a blind corner. Would they reach all or even most of their students? Would students be invested in their schoolwork? Would uneven access to devices or the internet limit some students’ learning opportunities? A pandemic that has …
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May 29, 2020

New First Look Information About The Use Of Technology For Homework Assignments

Like I say at some point most days these days (although a little less these past two weeks), I’m getting a backlog in items that I want to post, so I’ll start posting them more frequently for the rest of the day.

Given the realities of remote learning, although with more traditional distance online learning, this is an interesting read.

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New First Look Information About the Use of Technology for Homework Assignments

2020048 Report Cover

A new First Look report, Teachers’ Use of Technology for School and Homework Assignments: 2018–19, provides information about the use of technology for homework assignments in grades 3–12. It focuses on information that can best be provided by public school teachers from their perspective and direct interaction with students.

The report highlights the following findings:

  • Twenty-six percent of teachers reported that their students have district- or school-provided computers for students to take home on a long-term basis during the school year. However, of these teachers, 40 percent reported that some of their students are not able to take these computers home.
  • Twenty-three percent of teachers reported being very knowledgeable, and 51 percent reported being somewhat knowledgeable about their students’ access to the Internet at home.
  • Teachers estimated the percentage of their students who have access to a computer at home, including district- or school-provided computers for students who take them home. About two-thirds of teachers estimated that 75 percent or more of their students have access to a computer at home.
  • While computers and Internet service might exist in students’ households, computer availability for homework and the reliability of computer connections to the Internet can vary considerably. About a third (35 percent) of teachers estimated that their students’ home computers were very available for school assignments. Twenty-nine percent of teachers thought it very likely that their students’ home computers had reliable Internet access.
  • About a fifth (19 percent) of teachers reported that they often assign technology-based homework and an additional 28 percent reported doing so sometimes.

This report uses data from the 2018–19 survey, Teachers’ Use of Technology for School and Homework Assignments. To view the full report, please visit

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March 4, 2020

Report – The Virtual Learning Network In New Zealand: History And Future Thoughts

Kind of an entry for my Kiwi reads, but really for anyone interested in the history of online learning at the K-12 level in New Zealand.  This report by a good friend of mine, Derek Wenmoth, provides an exception telling of the history of how virtual learning developed in the country.

VLN paper.png

The Virtual Learning Network in New Zealand – History and Future Thoughts

The first part of this paper provides a background to the development of the VLN in New Zealand, providing insights to how it came into being and why. The second part of the document explores some ideas about how the use of online learning might become more embedded as a part of our education system, regularly used by students and teachers to provide access to learning content and experiences that aren’t available to them in their local setting.  (Download PDF 1.4Mb)

February 22, 2020

OSTA-AECO – Affording Our Students’ Success: 2020-21 Pre-Budget/Grants for Student Needs Submission

Late in the week, this submission from the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association (OSTA-AECO) scrolled across my electronic desk – Affording Our Students’ Success: 2020-21 Pre-Budget/Grants for Student Needs Submission – which is available at:

For those that don’t want to wade through the document itself, pages 28 and 29 read:

Enhancing Virtual Learning Environments

In today’s society, technology has become an integral component of our education system. The ways in which we integrate technology into our classrooms are ever-evolving to meet modern pedagogical standards.

In March 2019, the Ministry of Education outlined its latest mandate Education That Works for You. Among a variety of proposed changes it includes the introduction of a mandatory four-credit eLearning requirement that would take effect for the 2020-21 school year.[70] This mandate, which was later modified to require students to complete a minimum of two credits on a Ministry-approved Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to receive their Ontario Secondary School Diploma, has been critiqued and/or criticized by both teachers’ federations and employer bargaining agencies for lacking critical supports in broadband access, students in special education, and a solidified student-teacher relationship.[71][72][73][74]

In response to this mandate, OSTA-AECO published a report on the challenges of mandatory eLearning.[75] Our findings included that 95% of students disapproved of the new eLearning mandate, that a majority of students felt that their learning styles have not properly been accommodated, and that a maximum of 90,000 of Ontario’s 2 million currently-enrolled students would not be able to obtain their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).[76] These findings are considerably important, and they highlight a number of challenges that must be addressed before eLearning can be equally accessible for all Ontario students. OSTA-AECO has recommended numerous improvements to eLearning, including enhancing Additional Qualifications for teachers who may wish to become eLearning instructors, addressing language barriers, and focusing on the retention of critical learning skills,[77]

OSTA-AECO continues to be concerned about the implementation of the eLearning mandate. Though the Ministry has suggested that the number of mandatory eLearning credits have been reduced to two,[78] considerable issues with achievement rates and access to resources in online courses have not been addressed. Additionally, the amount of funding that has previously been dedicated to supporting the implementation of eLearning through the Continuing Education subgrant had decreased in the previous budget season.[79][80] If the Ministry is able to put this new requirement into effect for the 2020-21 school year, it will prove to be difficult to integrate this mandate without the accompanying necessary funds. However, if this mandate is reversed for the 2020-21 school year, an increased investment in this subgrant will still be necessary to accommodate an increasing number of students who wish to take courses through online learning.

OSTA-AECO recommends:

1. That the Ministry implement substantial investments in continuing education, in order to meet increasing demand for eLearning and blended learning environments.

2. That the Ministry reverses its mandate requiring all students to take a minimum of 4 eLearning courses and retract its subsequent proposals to modify the mandate to 2 eLearning credits.

70. Ontario Ministry of Education, Education that Works for You — Modernizing Classrooms. (Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario, March 15, 2019).

71. Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, Next Phase of Consultation on Hiring Practices and Class Size. (Toronto: Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, May 31, 2019), 4-5.

72. Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, Submission to the Ministry of Education: E-Learning and Catholic Education. (Toronto: Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, June 24, 2019), 2-4.

73. Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, OSSTF/FEESO to begin information pickets and limited withdrawal of administrative services. (Toronto: Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, November 21, 2019).

74. Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, Responding to the Government’s Cuts to Education. (Toronto: Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, January 7, 2020).

75. OSTA-AECO Executive Council, eLearning: The Students’ Perspective. (Toronto: Ontario Student Trustees’ Association, 2019).

76. Ibid., 5.

77. Ibid., 21-22.

78. Caroline Alphonso, Ontario reducing online learning requirement for high schoolers from four courses to two. (Toronto: The Globe and Mail, November 21, 2019).

79. Ontario Ministry of Education, supra, note 56, 80.

80. Ontario Ministry of Education, supra, note 57, 74.



56. Ontario Ministry of Education, Technical Paper 2018-19. (Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2019), 69.

57. Ontario Ministry of Education, Technical Paper 2019-20. (Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2020), 63


This is interesting, as if you examine their original report on e-learning they were quite biased in their presentation of data and information, but their recommendations were all VERY well thought out and articulated.  In the two pages of this report focused on e-learning, they were much more rationale in their discussion of the issue – and their recommendations were fairly reasonable too.

February 19, 2020

Report Download: Student Perspectives On Online Programs

While focused on higher education, this report may be of interest to some readers.

Report: Student Perspectives on Online Programs
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Access Exclusive Insights for Elevating Online Student Satisfaction

Wiley Education Services strives to empower our university partners to provide impactful learning experiences. How do students view the online programs that we support? To find out, download our new research report, Student Perspectives on Online Programs.

For this study, we teamed up with Aslanian Market Research to survey nearly 3,000 learners supported by Wiley. The report offers a transparent look at online student satisfaction, along with insights that all universities can use to refine their online programs, including:

  • Leading reasons students choose to study online
  • Factors that influence student satisfaction
  • How faculty can help create better experiences

See How This Report Can Help Your University

Contact Wiley Education Services to explore the report findings further. We’ll go behind the data to share solutions that empower universities to boost student satisfaction, accelerate enrollment, and strengthen retention.

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