Archive for December, 2011


K through 12 online education is an emerging field that continues to grow. As outlined in recent reports, there have been many exciting developments in the past year, and new trends continue to evolve.

 

In our local NY schools:

 

  • A consortium of eight local Westchester county schools are participating in a pilot program “Online Courses for the 21st Century”, through Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES.  The junior and senior level courses are completely asynchronous.

 

  • According to editor/author Laurel Babcock of Bedford Schools Bedford Dateline, “the program’s purpose is to keep students up to speed with the latest in educational methods and prepare them for their future. “

 

  • Local districts participating in addition to Bedford are Chappaqua, Katonah-Lewisboro, Lakeland, Mamaroneck, Ossining, Peekskill and Yorktown.

 

In New York State:

 

  • NYSED released a comprehensive state education technology plan, approved in February 2010, which includes a provision for opening a statewide online high school.
  • The NYS Board of Regents declined to authorize full-time online charter schools at this point, but there are small public school based initiatives throughout New York State including iLearnNYC through the New York City Department of Education, through the 8 high school consortium in Westchester County mentioned above, and through Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES, among others.
  • It is clear that New York State, though a latecomer to K-12 online education in the US, is now in the online school mix.  Expect high school grads who want online education soon.

 

Highlights throughout the US:

 

  • Most district programs are currently blended (a hybrid between online and on-site) instead of fully online.
  • Though single district programs are the fastest growing segment of online and blended learning, full-time, multi-district online schools continue to grow.
  • Special student needs, such as diploma completion, enrichment additional course offerings, are becoming a main focus
  • Several states passed new laws on online education, some of which cited the Ten Elements of Digital Learning created by Digital Learning Now
  • The Common Core State Standards are beginning to be used. Common assessments are next.

 

References:

 

Laurel Babcock, Editor.  Bedford Dateline.  Volume 39, Number 1, Fall 2011.

John Watson, Amy Murin, Lauren Vashaw, Butch Gemin, Chris Rapp. Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning Report, 2011. Evergreen Education Group. 2011.

 

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Florida Virtual School

Though online college programs receive a lot of media attention, online elementary through high school programs do exist, though there are currently far fewer. However, one such program is the award-winning Florida Virtual School (est. 1997), which serves Kindergarten through Grade 12 (students 19 and under) public, private, and home school students inside and outside the state of Florida. Their courses are designed to fit a variety of students and families including:

  • students with scheduling conflicts
  • students in need of AP courses
  • students in need of elective courses
  • struggling students
  • student athletes
  • students of military families with international commitments
  • student performers
  • medically homebound students
  • working students
   

Any public, private, or home school student can take advantage of FVS’s free courses just by being a Florida resident. Courses last 16–18 weeks per half credit, though students can complete courses faster if they desire. All courses provide the entire spectrum of components required by the State of Florida. Credits earned with FLVS are transferred onto a student’s school transcript, whether it’s one class due to a scheduling conflict or multiple classes. Flexibility and accessibility are key components the FVS prides itself on. A Global Services Division is offered for those outside of Florida.

Students create an account when applying. They can then request a course and be placed on a wait list. Wait time depends on the number of students on the list. Typical wait time is 4–6 weeks.

Visit the Florida Virtual School online for more information.

Programs like this are important for online learning. As technology continues to shape our world, educational programs need to evolve to meet the changing needs of students across the board. The Florida Virtual School is a great example of an institution that is ahead of the curve.  It is likely that within the next few years, high school graduates will start looking for colleges that will accommodate them fully online or at least offer hybrid programs.

According to the 2011 Keeping Pace report on online education, single district programs are the fastest-growing segment of online and blended learning, and most of them are blended (hybrid). However, full-time, multi-district schools continue to grow as well as special student needs become a major focus.  Some states have more programs and guidelines in place than others, but there is a clear trend toward more online options.