Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sample Virtual Learning Course and Policies

After reviewing both VHS and VLACS, two similar virtual education schools, I've discovered that they are not equal for all students. VLACS offers free tuition to any individual student who resides in the state, which is fantastic. However, the cost to enroll into a class if you are not a resident is a bit shocking. Paying for these courses could pose a challenge for some students. One reason a student may seek out virtual learning may be from a result of not passing traditional classes, or other life issues created some barrier to traditional public education. On the other hand, some students may be seeking a course that is not offered at their school. If a student were not a resident, enrolling into a VLACS course would be a difficult financial decision. Who would pay for the course? Would the students public school help cover the cost or would the student be expected to pay? Similarly, VHS offers courses to all students, and the cost is pretty low. If the school is part of the "collaborative" there may be funding available to help the student cover the tuition. 

Both virtual schools advertise as a flexible learning environment with the ability to house full-time and part-time students. I would envision VLACS offering more opportunities for students who are seeking alternative courses because the public education or other school doesn't quite offer what they desire, or they have some other scheduling conflicts that hinders them from obtaining the course they need at their school. I envision a typical VLACS student as one who has high intrinsic motivation, and is seeking alternate routes to gain credits and courses to help carve out their future. While, VHS offers some challenging courses up to the AP level, I would envision this program being popular with public schools who have students that are struggling to achieve the appropriate graduation credits, or have gaps in their education, for various reasons. 
Within a public school system, the ideal virtual learning arrangement should be one where there is little to no cost. Whatever tuition cost might exist, the sending school should help the student acquire appropriate funding. The goal for a partnership school would be to offer enrichment courses that are not available in the school where the student can access alternate curriculum. For example, many high schools lack some AP programs, or some elective courses. On the other hand, public schools should also be able to use the Virtual Learning partnership as an alternative option for struggling students, or students who have barriers to the typical education and require a flexible schedule. This could be a result from medical issues, to life altering events, or even disciplinary circumstances. Again, students should be able to access education with the aide of the the sending school acquiring appropriate funding for tuition. 

Based off the two schools reviewed, I would argue that VHS offers a more global program where schools can become collaborators or partners to take advantage of low tuition, and potential grant funding opportunities. If a school is in New Hampshire, then they should absolutely form a partnership with VLACS, because it is FREE for all resident students. IF a school is outside of the state, VLACS may not be the best option for various virtual learning scenarios. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Virtual Learning

Virtual learning can be advantageous, depending on the type of learner taking advantage of the service. Many of these programs require that the student has intrinsict motivation to access the course, stay organized, and stay current with the content. Not every student has acquired the appropriate skills to manage this. However, there are occasions where the local school just does not work for the student and the virtual setting is the best option to obtain an educaiton.  There are a variety of reasons where a students would benefit from the flexibility of virtual education and be able to gain knowledge without the barriers in the traditioinal educational setting (Layton and Brown, 2011). 

Virtual learning experiences, do not have to be through a specific schools like VLACS or VHS, it could be your own personal interest that is satisfied through the flexibility of virtual learning. For example, if you have an interest in learning about dinosaurs, then this tour might be enough to fill your needs. Or, if you are curious about the universe and the size of things that make up the universe, the information provided in this virtual lesson may also be satisfying. But, how does the individual find these resources? It takes a lot of work and luck to find these tools on your own, often times a real person can help point you in the right direction. This is where having an actual person to interact with becomes important. Ideally, the mentor is a kind individual who has the knowledge and passion to provide the appropriate tools, and open the right doors for the student to be able to explore the unknown, individually.

In the end, virtual learning can be advantageous, depending on the type of student, and the circumstances for learning. Some virtual learning programs may provide the rigid linear content that is desired, or provide a more flexible, open learning environment for the student to explore on their own. In either scenario, virtual learning is an important way to continue learning and growing as a person, for "learning is a treasure and will follow us everywhere." (学习-是永远跟随主人的宝物 - Chinese Proverb)

Layton, L., & Brown, E. (2011). Virtual schools are multiplying, but some question their educational value. The Washington Post. Retrieved from 2013.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Libraries; Virtual or Physical?

The availability of technology is making it easier for people to access reading content, virtually. Should the physical brick and mortar library transform to a more digital or virtual library without physical books?

I would argue that both, the traditional library, and a virtual library have benefits in education. Each entity fills it's own educational niche and provides various opportunities for learning. This small digital story better explains my opinion on this issue.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Technology Usage Statistics

The following timetoast timeline compares statistics of technology use over various generations.  As you might expect, the Generation @  regularly use technology more so than the Silent Generation. However, some data has shown that there is an increase in use by the silent generation, and the baby boomer generation. As the complexity of society merges with technology, people will have no choice but to embrace the tools and become connected. Especially when familiar things like pay phones, or even Blockbuster are becoming obsolete.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Technology Configurations

The following whiteboard outlines some common technology configurations in schools, and some common activities in various classrooms. Each scenario addresses some potential challenges and ways to overcome those challenges.

Realtime Board is a fun way to create an interactive presentation. Here is a direct link to the presentation if the embedded board fails to load.