Virtual School Meanderings

March 30, 2012

SITE 2012 Award for Outstanding Service to Digital Equity

I wanted to mention that I will be traveling to New Zealand, starting this morning.  So I will be offline until sometime on Sunday.  I have a full three days of entries already scheduled, but note that I won’t be able to approve comments, trackbacks, or react to any new items that come across my electronic desk.

Also note that while in New Zealand my Internet may be spotty, so activity in this space may be infrequent or in fits and spurts or at odd times.


I forgot to mention this when I was posting all of those sessions about the annual Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference, that the Sunchild E-Learning Community – a K-12 online learning program in Alberta focused on aboriginal students – won the SITE Award for Outstanding Service to Digital Equity.

Congratulations to my colleagues from Alberta!!!

March 8, 2012

SITE 2012 – Critical Success Factors for Virtual Schooling: A Panel Discussion

The first session from the Virtual Schooling SIG at the annual Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference was:

Critical Success Factors for Virtual Schooling: A Panel Discussion

Authors:
Jason Huett, Unversity of West Georgia, USA
Charles Hodges, Georgia Southern University, USA
Kim Huett, University of West Georgia, USA
Michael Barbour, Wayne State University, USA
Jennifer Smolka, Walden University, USA

Abstract:
Are you about to start developing new virtual schooling opportunities for your students in a K-12 school or university setting? Bring your questions and concerns to this panel of online learning experts where we will address any pertinent issue from recruiting faculty and starting new programs to evaluating and improving existing programs to the benefits and drawbacks of private/public partnerships. No topic is off limits. This panel session will depend heavily on audience participation so come prepared with your questions and concerns to drive the discussion and to take advantage of the expertise of this diverse group of online learning experts—all on one panel!

As the session was a panel – and an unplanned one for the most part – there isn’t anything to really report.  I tried to record the audio of the panel, but with four panelist and a lot of audience participation, the recording didn’t come out as planned so I can’t include it here.

March 7, 2012

SITE 2012 – Effects of Spoken vs. Written Text on the Quality of Discussion in Online Discussion Boards

The eighth session from the Virtual Schooling SIG at the annual Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference was:

Adopting a learning management system in secondary education: A case study

Authors:
Michelle Read, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Renata Geurtz, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Abstract:
This paper explores the adoption process of three high school teachers from consideration of the tool to understanding its potential impact to choosing whether to adopt and implement a learning management system. The use of learning management systems, particularly in secondary and higher education settings, is becoming more common either as a supplement to face-to-face instructions or full online course offerings. The findings from this paper explores difficulties encountered by many teachers as they attempt to integrate technology into their classrooms, including infrastructure issues, lack of administrative support and an unclear understanding of best practices and technology purpose. These three teachers, all from the same school, illustrate how the adoption process can vary for each individual. Additionally, this case study illustrates one way in which Moodle, an open-source, commonly used learning management system, is being used in secondary setting.

As this was a poster session, I simply took some images of the poster.

One more session tomorrow and then all of the Virtual Schooling SIG sessions are complete.

March 6, 2012

SITE 2012 – Comparing K-12 Teachers in Virtual and Brick-and-Mortar Settings Using Curriculum Orientations

The seventh session from the Virtual Schooling SIG at the annual Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference was:

Comparing K-12 Teachers in Virtual and Brick-and-Mortar Settings Using Curriculum Orientations

Authors:
Nicole Horn, University of Kansas, USA

Abstract:
This study explored the curriculum orientation preferences of 58 K-12 virtual teachers in Kansas. An examination of curriculum orientations was conducted using three instruments and an interview, the Modified Curriculum Orientation Instrument, Forced-Choice online survey, and curriculum orientation descriptors followed by semi-structured interviews. The interviews provided a broader and deeper understanding of teachers’ curriculum preferences as it relates to instructional decisions in a virtual environment. Many teachers are not aware of how to implement curriculum in a virtual environment because they lack any experience with virtual teaching and learning and do not understand the importance of curriculum. There is a lack of research in understanding how virtual teachers conceptualize and implement curriculum in virtual settings. The results indicated that the virtual teachers chose the same curriculum orientation as brick-and-mortar teachers but view curriculum differently.

Nicole began with a discussion of curriculum orientation – or the beliefs that teachers possess in terms of their curriculum design and curriculum delivery. Her study was to examine the curriculum orientation of virtual school teachers, which included mixed method of data collection (e.g., surveys and interviews). More specifically, Nicole used a modified version of the curriculum orientation survey (which could yield more than a single curriculum orientation) and then created a forced choice, 36-item survey (which was designed to yield a single curriculum orientation) with 47 virtual teachers, and then interviews with 10 of those virtual school teachers. Both methods of data collection were conducted online.

The results indicated that the highest type of curriculum orientation was humanist – both for the ideal curriculum orientation and the forced choice measure and the behavioral was the lowest. The K-8 teachers also scored very high on the cognitive orientation. The only significant difference when comparing the brick-and-mortar teachers and the virtual school teachers was in the social reconstructionist curriculum orientation.

Nicole indicated that there were limitations – including the lack of potential reliability of the forced choice instrument, the small sample size, the limitation of the virtual school sample to teachers in Kansas – all of which affect the generalizability of the results.

SITE 2012 – Virtual Learning in New Zealand: Achieving Maturity

The sixth session from the Virtual Schooling SIG at the annual Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference was:

Virtual Learning in New Zealand: Achieving Maturity

Authors:
Michael Barbour, Wayne State University, Canada
Derek Wenmoth, CORE Education, New Zealand
Niki Davis, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Abstract:
This proposal describes a study into the development of virtual learning in New Zealand, specifically the obstacles that e-learning clusters face or have faced in their journey to sustainability and maturity through the lens of the Learning Communities Online Handbook. Using a variety of data collection methods, the researchers identified three common barriers, including a lack of a coherent vision, difficulty in securing the necessary funding and resources, and a lack of collaboration and cooperation within and between clusters. Based on these findings, it is recommended that individual e-learning clusters develop specific strategies to encourage greater collaboration between clusters and work towards greater consistency between their activities, including professional and organizational development and also of the approaches to virtual learning.

The presentation is focused on the data that was presented in the Summary Report In Relation To The Virtual Learning Network Primary And Secondary e-Learning: Examining The Process Of Achieving Maturity report that I prepared last year.

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