Virtual Schools and Distance Learning

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  • 1. VIRTUAL SCHOOLS & DISTANCE LEARNING June 2, 2014 Stephanie Ohtola
  • 2.  Virtual schools are an alternative to traditional schools  Courses are internet-based and allow the student to learn and complete assignments without participating in face-to-face instruction like in a brick-and-mortar school.  Students can either learn synchronously, in which instruction is given in real-time or asynchronously, which allows students to access materials whenever they please. AN INTRODUCTION
  • 3. According to Clark (2001), “A virtual school is here defined as an educational organization that offers K-12 courses through internet- or web-based methods. Virtual K-12 education is a form of distance education. Distance education might be formally defined as formal education in which a majority of the instruction occurs while the teacher and learner are separate” (p. 8). DEFINITION
  • 4.  State-Sanctioned, State-Level:  Sanctioned by state government to act as the state’s virtual school  EX: Florida Virtual School, founded in 1997  Consortium & Regionally-Based:  National, multi-state, state-level, or regional; courses are shared among members  EX: Massachusetts, Virtual High School Inc.  Agency-Based Local Education:  Supplemental for home-schooled students  EX: Houston, Houston Independent School District Virtual School  Virtual Charter Schools  Exempt from certain rules and regulations, these state-chartered entities are both nonprofit and for-profit  EX: Kansas, Basehor-Linwood Virtual Charter School (Clark, 2001, p. 6) EXAMPLES OF VIRTUAL SCHOOLS
  • 5. Students can learn at their own pace Students with disabilities are able to learn from home Geography is no longer an issue Students can feel more comfortable expressing themselves Students that might otherwise drop out can stay in school ADVANTAGES?
  • 6.  “The hardest part about taking an online course is staying up to date. This course taught me more self-discipline in one semester than in all of my other years combined.” – Colorado Online Student (NACOL, 2006)  “I think that students should take online courses because it teaches them how to be independent about their studies. I feel that it helps you out with college in the long run. College is more independent than high school and online classes help.” - Colorado Online Student (NACOL, 2006) WHAT “REAL STUDENTS” ARE SAYING
  • 7. So how can I possibly argue with these advantages?
  • 8.  IIRODL  The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning  A journal that exists for the sole purpose of advancing virtual schooling  The majority of published articles on virtual schooling are through IIRODL  NACOL  North American Council for Online Learning  A nonprofit centered around online and blended learning  Online Schools  Florida Virtual School  “Proven Results”  A U.S. Department of Education report published in September 2010 found that more study was needed to determine the effectiveness of online education for kindergarten through 12th grade students (Dept. of Education, 2010). SOURCES
  • 9.  Students have one job: to be students  Absence of guidance  What if the content “just doesn’t interest” them?  Parents  At risk students  Detection  Attention STUDENTS CAN LEARN AT THEIR OWN PACE
  • 10.  “One thing I thought you might consider working on is the videos. The first video [the introduction] was easy to understand and short and I liked that… also the last two videos were longer and didn't really interest me.”  “I liked how there were videos to watch so it wasn't just reading but the video [on the Hundred Years War] was a little boring to watch.” EXAMPLES
  • 11.  Segregation / alienation  IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) 1997 and amendments in 2004 STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES ARE ABLE TO LEARN FROM HOME
  • 12.  Argument that better suits developing countries  Question of quality GEOGRAPHY IS NO LONGER AN ISSUE
  • 13.  We live in this life, not SecondLife  Interpersonal communication– it’s a skill! STUDENTS CAN FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE EXPRESSING THEMSELVES
  • 14.  Brick-and-mortar schools can actually help  Relationships  Project U-Turn  Rethinking schedules  Virtual schools are not the answer  Main reasons students drop out indicate that they may also drop out of virtual schools  A Minnesota state evaluation found that their students’ completion rates in online courses were decreasing. They also found that full- time online students were more likely to drop out than their peers (Nobles, 2011). STUDENTS THAT MIGHT OTHERWISE DROP OUT CAN STAY IN SCHOOL
  • 15.  Between 2010-11, 66 percent of students who enrolled in Florida Virtual School courses withdrew in the first month and returned to traditional schooling (Catalanello and Sokol, 2012).  Half of Colorado’s online students end up leaving within a year to return to their neighborhood schools and post lower scores when they do. In 2010, online schools produced three times more dropouts than graduates. Over a four-year period, online students’ scores averaged 14 to 26 percentage points below the state average in reading, writing and math (Hubbard and Mitchell, 2011). RETURN TO TRADITIONAL SCHOOLING
  • 16.  Virtual schools lack the guidance, attention, and specialized training that is available to them in traditional educational environments  Based on research that analyzes the reasons students drop out of school, providing a virtual learning environment will not solve the crisis. Interventions, early detection, making learning relevant, further research, and community action plans will be more effective  Students with disabilities will be, in the long term, only hurt by the lack of mobilization and socialization that is associated with attending a traditional school with trained professionals  Over half of the students that enroll in online schools in states such as Florida and Colorado return to traditional schools without gained knowledge CONCLUSIONS
  • 17. REFERENCES Bridgeland, J., Dilulio, J., & Morison, K. B. (2006). The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts.Civic Enterprises for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Barth, P., Hull, J., & Andrie, R. (2012). Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools. Center for Public Education National School Boards Association. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Searching-for-the- reality-of-virtual-schools-at-a-glance/Searching-for-the-reality-of-virtual-schools-full-report.pdf Catalanello, R., & Sokol, M. (2012, January 7). Success of Florida Virtual School is Difficult to Measure. Tampa Bay Times. Clark, T. (2001). Virtual Schools: Trends and Issues. A Study of Virtual Schools in the United States. WestEd Distance Learning Resource Network, 8. Furger, R. (2008, December 8). How to End the Dropout Crisis: Ten Strategies for Student Retention. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/student-dropout-retention- strategies
  • 18. REFERENCES (CONT.) Hubbard, B., & Mitchell, N. (2011, October 4). Troubling Questions About Online Education. Chalkbeat Colorado. Means, B., Toyama, Y., & Murphy, R. (2010) Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. NACOL (2006). Virtual Schools and 21st Century Skills. The North American Council for Online Learning, 6-8. Nobles, J. (2011). Evaluation Report: K-12 Online Learning. Office of the Legislative Auditor, State of Minnesota. Neild, R., & Balfanz, R. (2006). Unfulfilled Promise: The Dimensions and Characteristics of Philadelphia's Dropout Crisis, 2000-2005. Johns Hopkins University.
  • 19. REFERENCES (CONT.) Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972-2008. (2010, December 1). Retrieved May 28, 2014, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/dropout08/findings1.asp Whittingham, K. (2010). The Relationship Between Motor Abilities and Early Social Development in a Preschool Cohort of Children with Cerebral Palsy. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 31, 1346-1351.