IntroductionVirtual schools are transforming education and removing wallsand boundaries of traditional schools. This literature reviewexamines virtual school trend in a K-12 setting. Through the useof peer-reviewed articles and government/corporate reports thisreview will investigate the following trends in K-12 virtualschools.History Types of virtual schoolsPurpose of virtual schools BenefitsStudent Experience Challenges
HistoryThe earliest form of a virtual school, which was actually anindependent study high school, emerged in the 1920’s(Clark & Berge, 2005).Most virtual schools across North America were focused onthe highest achievers and college bound students(Mulcahy, 2002).The recent history of virtual schools shows they are rapidlychanging; however, the concept of K-12 virtual schools isstill relatively new.
Types of Virtual SchoolsSix types of virtual schools based on who operates the program (Clark &Berge (2005) . State funded In 2012, Florida was the first state to offer both full and part-timevirtual schooling options to all of its students in grades K-12 (Watson etal., 2012). Collaborative A combination of universities, state, and/or private schools Charter Schools State designated University Based Most are independent study or gifted/talented high schools. Private Companies K12 Inc. enrolls more K-12 students than any other private educationorganization in the U.S. (Miron&Urschel 2012).
Purpose of virtual schools Innovate way to offer an education Offer classes that would not normally be accessible Course credit recovery Increase graduation rates Meet technology requirements
Student ExperienceIn a synchronoussetting…Students generally hadvery positiveexperiences andenjoyed theindependence andfreedom that thevirtual class offered.In an asynchronoussetting…Students had a moredifficult timeunderstandingconcepts and spentmore time off-taskthan completing ontask activities.
Benefits Access of classes Course recovery opportunities Access to instructors and experiences worldwide Decrease costs Give students a global viewpoint
Challenges Accreditation Accreditation is a way of ensuring a quality education andrequires virtual schools to evaluate their vision, strategies,priorities, leadership, programs, and resources (AdvancED,2013). Resistance to change Resistance centers in and often succeeds in the governingbodies of schools (Chubb, 2012). Funding Most of the state virtual schools are funded with a fixedamount then supplemented with tuition often paid bystudents (International Association for K-12 Online Learning,2013).
Conclusion Research shows that K-12 virtual schools are a growingtrend. It is predicted that by the year 2016, five million K-12students will be enrolled in virtual school courses (Piccianoet al., 2012). Virtual schools are seen as cost effective solutions toimproving graduation rates, a way to build towards collegecareers, and a way to differentiate instruction (Picciano etal., 2012). Virtual schools will continue to grow in the 21st century, it isnecessary to evaluate and plan for their expansion andimpact on the United States education system.
ResourcesAdvancED. (2013). What is accreditation? Retrieved from http://www.advanc-ed.org/what-accreditation.Chubb, J. E. (2012). Overcoming the governance challenge in K-12 online learning. Creating sound policy for digitallearning. A working paper series from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Retrieved fromhttp://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED530433.pdfClark, T. & Berge, Z. (2005). Virtual schools and elearning: Planning for success. 19th Annual Conference on DistanceEducation. Retrieved from http://www.uwex.edu/disted/conference/Resource_library/proceedings/03_71.pdfInternational Association for K-12 Online Learning. (2013). Fast facts about online learning. Retrieved fromhttp://www.inacol.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/iNACOL_FastFacts_Feb2013.pdfMulcahy, D. M. (2002). Re-conceptualizing distance education: Implications for therural schools of Newfoundland andLabrador. The Morning Watch,30(1-2). Retrievedfrom: http://www.mun.ca/educ/faculty/mwatch/fall02/Mulcahy.htmPicciano, A., Seaman, J., Shea, P., & Swan, K. (n.d). Examining the extent and nature of online learning in American K-12Education: The research initiatives of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Internet And Higher Education, 15(2), 127-135.Watson, J., et. al. (2012). Keeping pace with K-12 online & blended learning: An annual Review of policy and practice.Evergreen Education Group. Retrieved from http://kpk12.com/reports/