Virtual High Schools and Innovation in Public Education

Interesting report on accelerating innovation in the US school sector. 2007 June. Sponsored by Education Sector –(proclaiming itself as ”independent education think tank in Washington, devoted to developing innovative solutions to the nation’s most pressing educational problems”). The report covers two models of schools the ‘cyber charter’ school or the ‘virtual school’. Cyberschool students learn primarily from home and at a personalized pace, usually with some guidance from parents. Many of the schools are controversial—and growing rapidly. But the majority of students learning online participate in“supplemental” virtual schooling programs sponsored by school districts, universities, consortia of schools or, state departments of education. Students can integrate courses from these programs into their traditional brickand-mortar high schools, supplemental programs allow students to take online courses in addition to their regular schoolbased courses.Often, the virtual programs fill curriculum gaps, providing Advanced Placement and other courses that are not available, or courses that help students make up credits for missed or failed classes. And it is these supplemental virtual programs that have the most important lessons to teach public school reformers. The report identifies “no significant difference” in student performance in online courses versus traditional face-to-face learning (reinforcing similar findings). But the report does identify that the Internet is enabling deep structural changes. In each case, new organizations are developing alternative management structures, distribution methods, and work models. Report doesn’t go into detail of how they use VLEs . Doesn’t seem to be a uniform model, which might be part of the problem of standardising the curricula and outcomes etc. But I guess that’s also a strength in that the best aspects of each can be used for a possible eventual system. Just how significant this trend is in reforming public education-accelerating innovation- in the US would be interesting-anyone?

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About thand

I'm a currently working at NSW Departrment of Education & Training, Connected Classrooms Program, Sydney.
This entry was posted in education, PLE, Public schools, schooling. Bookmark the permalink.

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