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Virtual schools and open schools a view from Europe - oriented to Asia especially India

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This is a presentation for the conference in India entitled "Education for All: Role of Open Schooling",13-15 March 2013, to be given by Paul Bacsich on 15 March 2013 …

This is a presentation for the conference in India entitled "Education for All: Role of Open Schooling",13-15 March 2013, to be given by Paul Bacsich on 15 March 2013

Published in Education
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  • 1. Virtual Schools and Open Schools: a view from Europe Paul Bacsich Senior Consultant, Sero Project Manager on EU projects VISCED and POERUP
  • 2.  Project Manager, VISCED – Virtual Schools and Colleges (ages 14-21 inclusive) Project Manager, POERUP – national policies for OER uptake Former Research Director, Re.ViCa – virtual campuses (post-secondary) Canterbury Visiting Fellow, New Zealand (study visit hosted by Prof Niki Davis): spent much time looking at Asia & Oceania Other projects: public-private HE consortia, MOOCs, benchmarking, quality...
  • 3. VISCED – Virtual Schools and Collegesfor Teenagers and Young Adults Funded under EU LLP KA3 ICT January 2011 to December 2012 inclusive; report and key deliverables now public! Sero was project coordinator and research lead Leveraged on Re.ViCa, leading into POERUP Approximately US$ 500,000 of funding
  • 4. What is a virtual school? For us… An institution that teaches courses entirely or primarily through distance online methods With courses which are similar (in purpose and outcome) to those normally taken by school- age children: ISCED 2 and 3  lower/upper secondary – junior/senior high Our age focus is 14-21 Making it real: So that’s Interhigh – video (play it later)
  • 5. World tour on virtual schools Hundreds in US (268 noted, 200 more at least) and Canada (35) – and Latin America Several (29) in Australia/New Zealand: Te Kura But very few in Oceania (and Caribbean) A few in Africa (far north and far south) “Thought” to be few and/or to have died out in Europe – NOT TRUE (70 or more) Asia much less clear to us (20?) –maybe collaborative work can find the true number
  • 6. Europe Europe in our sense includes not only the EU but the countries in geographic Europe including Turkey, all Russia and the Caucasus Around 70 virtual schools identified Likely to be over 100 However, most countries have only one or two Main exceptions are UK (10+), Spain (10+), Finland (a network) and Sweden (3 main ones)
  • 7. Outputs of the project Brochure and Wiki Handbook – 2 volumes – World Tour Newsletter every 2 months in 2011-2012 Case studies – see next slide Many specific reports – now public – including  Innovative Good Practice  Teacher Training – by Prof Niki Davis  Critical Success Factors And Final Report
  • 8. Three virtual schools to ponder Sofia Distans – Sweden (more asynch)  http://www.virtualcampuses.eu/index.php/Sofia_Distans undervisning - and video (play these later) Interhigh – Wales (more synch) - video  http://www.virtualcampuses.eu/index.php/InterHigh Escola Movel – Portugal - video  http://virtualcampuses.eu/index.php/Escola_Movel And five more: Bednet (Belgium), iScoil (Ireland) Nettilukio (Finland), Wereldschool (Netherlands), Vidusskola (Latvia)
  • 9. And outside Europe Credenda (Canada) Open High School, Sydney (Australia) Brisbane School of Distance Education (Australia) Open Polytechnic (New Zealand) – a virtual college (I could say a lot more about these – and see Coda) Other interesting examples include Pamoja Education (for IB) and Open High School Turkey
  • 10. Key issues – policyconstraints in Europe Some European countries are federal (UK, Germany, Spain) – like India? Some (like UK) even have zero pan-country ministry role (same in Canada) “Rights of the Child” issue inhibits homeschooling and “thus” virtual schooling Focus on nation-building/socialisation as well as education European ministries seem not very interested
  • 11. Key issues 1-41. Most ICT-based activity in schools is blended – ministries thought (or hoped) that there were no virtual schools (any more)2. Virtual schools are mainly small (few hundred)3. Much larger focus on expatriates and disadvantaged/ill (homeschooling is often illegal)4. Virtual schools are less regulated
  • 12. Key issues 5-95. Systems are more “classroom” in focus – not necessarily “synchronous”6. Often can draw only on minimal resources7. Virtual schools are more entrepreneurial, even state ones8. Virtual schools for adult credit recovery is a big driver in some countries (UK, Spain, Nordic) – see Coda9. More (?) interpenetration of virtual schools and virtual colleges (UK…)
  • 13. Innovative practice Virtual schools are more conservative – having made the shift to online, they tend to stick with a specific technology (e.g. FirstClass, as used for many years at UK Open University) Also the wide nature of the constituency makes them cautious with assumptions on broadband penetration Their focus is on effective teaching, not on innovation and research (unlike universities?)
  • 14. Staff development – not anissue in Europe Staff are recruited with suitable “attitude” and tend to stay a long time Systems evolve only slowly Virtual schools are not growing fast
  • 15. Sustainability and success factors Many virtual schools in Europe are quite old Few have failed Some of the oldest operators are fading since they find it hard to shift from a “print and correspondence model” to online
  • 16. EU policy areas wherevirtual schools could helpWe believe virtual schools are key to various EU initiatives – how does this relate to Asia?: STEM and other shortage subjects Early school leaving Travelling and other excluded communities Broadband uptake and open educationBut issues with: No EU right to good level/choice of education No Bologna for schools credit transfer
  • 17. Policy recommendations –for school-age children Virtual schools have been shown to be effective and no more costly than f2f schools Yet in most EU countries virtual schools are rare  Most common in countries with lighter regulation So... Governments should ensure that their regulations for schools do not explicitly or implicitly discriminate against virtual schools  In particular, consider their restrictive approach to “home education” (e.g. Germany, Netherlands, ...)  Virtual schools are NOT home education, they are schools (just as open universities are universities)
  • 18. Some further thoughts and a question Remarkably few virtual schools use Open Educational Resources (OER) – this is surprising to us – but see e.g. Open High School of Utah  Surely the vast amount of content e.g. from US foundations is beginning to be useful? We see little use of study centres for virtual schools in Europe, yet we see it for universities – this seems a model for some of Asia Important: we know too little about virtual and open schools in Asia – how can we collaborate?
  • 19. Thank you for listening! Paul Bacsich Sero newsletter:http://www.virtualschoolsandcolleges.info wiki (ongoing) http://www.virtualcampuses.eu
  • 20. A coda: On virtual schools for adults...
  • 21. Virtual schools for adults Many virtual schools in US and some in Europe also cater for adults (e.g. UK, Finland) This is so that adults can get school-leaving qualifications to make them suitable to enter professions or study at university In the UK there are around 10 providers of online “GCSE” (school leaving) and “A levels” (uni entrance), mainly but not wholly for 21+
  • 22. Cost-effectiveness A study for Sero by the University of Northampton claims, that for England:  “people earning a [university entrance] qualification exclusively through distance learning could do so at a cost between 9 and 38 percent of school-based learning, a potential saving of 62 to 91 percent in comparison to current funding given to traditional schools!” This caused substantial discussion at the European Virtual Schools Colloquium in Sheffield in May 2012! Some backing for the general thrust of these figures from other countries (US, Scotland, India, etc)
  • 23. Recommendations for virtual schooling for adults EU governments should reverse their neglect of non-university education for adults and in particular foster the development of adult-focused online teaching of school-leaving qualifications Universities and their researchers should consider long and hard why virtual schools in EU have been set up easily and cheaply in techno-pedagogic terms, yet universities in EU mostly struggle to deliver substantial distance learning and insist on doing large numbers of pilots and studies before making choices
  • 24. Implications of this for universities and governments The various “fudges” to allow older adults to enter university without adequate qualifications could then be swept away All students could then enter university with relevant and up to date school-leaving qualifications Drop-out would be reduced, thus retention improved Quality of graduates would increase (e.g higher skill for “critical thinking”) – NB Academically Adrift Perhaps in some countries overall course length at university could then be reduced?