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Virtual Schools Essay

New Trend in Education Online learning is a new form of education in which instruction and content comprising a formal course of study are delivered primarily via the Internet. K-12 enrollments in online courses continue to grow, and while some believe there is great potential in the virtual schools movement, others believe there are many challenges inherent in this relatively new method of education delivery. Virtual Schools versus Virtual Schooling ? The term virtual schools is used to refer to two different types of experiences. ?

Fully developed virtual schools offer students the opportunity to take an entire diploma online. Students do not attend any site-based school, although the diploma itself may be offered through an affiliated school district. ? There are relatively few full-fledged virtual schools. Most are charter schools that have attracted homeschoolers, such as those affiliated with K–12, Inc. , and a few are virtual schools for students whose schedules make it difficult for them to attend site-based schools, for instance, athletes and actors. Virtual Schooling ?

Virtual schooling, on the other hand, is what students experience when they take one or more courses online while also attending their site-based schools. ? Institutions that call themselves virtual schools (for example, Michigan Virtual school and Louisiana Virtual school) may offer virtual schooling, but they do not have a full array of courses and do not offer diplomas. ? The teacher and student experience in a virtual school is entirely different from the experience with virtual schooling. ? Virtual schooling, first developed to deliver courses to small schools in rural areas in a synchronous manner (for example, radio, TV, satellite),

has a long history in the United States, but the development of the Internet has allowed it to move from synchronous to asynchronous modes of delivery. ? Virtual schooling is growing rapidly in public K-12 schools across the United States. Designing and Selecting Online Courses – Three major approaches to developing online courses to address the needs of all students. Making Online Learning Accessible ? The first approach is to design online learning so that it is easily accessible to all students, including those defined as exceptional learners. ? The course should include a website

that is easily accessible and can be successfully navigated between its pages. ? Potential users should be able to benefit from the information contained in its text, images, tables, forms, and various sorts of multimedia. Not Just A Website ? Online courses are electronic learning environments distributed to students via the Web. ? The course design should comprise of reading materials, instructional videos to watch, activities, assignments to complete, discussions to join, and assessments to take. ? Remember an online course is more than a website. Differentiated Instruction.

Multiple Means of Representation ? Content presented in video, audio, slide show reading materials at multiple difficulty levels ? Reading materials with supportive resources presentations at variable complexity levels ? On-demand translation for nonnative speakers ? Graphic representations such as concept maps and graphic organizers ? Illustrative representations such as diagrams and simulations Multiple Means of Expression ? Alternative forms of text input: ? ? ? ? text, speech-to-text, switches, touch pads Media-based assignments: drawings, maps, diagrams, videos, slideshows, Web pages reduced text

Assignments: outlines, concept maps, tables, graphs, hands-on activities supportive tools: spelling and grammar checkers, drawing programs, outliners Social networking options: blogs, wikis, online chat, instant messaging Shared writing and peer editing Multiple Means of Engagement ? Interviewing experts ? Role-playing ? Threaded discussions ? Brainstorming activities ? Team inquiry projects ? Online experiments ? Game playing ? Community activism Making Online Learning Supportive Two Additional Approaches ? One approach is to focus on support involves designing online courses with attention to the learning needs of a specific population (for example, ESL students). ?

The second approach is to design a course that can be customized to meet the needs of all learners, in alignment with the principles of UDL. It would be both accessible to any learner and supportive of any learner. iNACOL iNACOL is the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC. iNACOL’s National Standards for Quality Online Teaching ? Standard C ? Rubric for evaluating online teachers in the areas of design, incorporation, and planning.

? Recommended Assessment Practices – Overall Evaluation ? Should include the following: ? Knowledge and understanding of techniques and applications of online instructional strategies. ? Ability to use student-centered instructional strategies to connect to real-world applications to engage students in learning. ? Understands the process for facilitating, monitoring, and establishing expectations for students. ? Knows and understands the process for facilitating and monitoring online instructional groups that are goaloriented, focused, project-based, and inquiry-oriented to promote learning through group interaction. LOUISIANA’S VIRTUAL LEARNING ?

Louisiana students have the opportunity to take online public school courses for free. ? Louisiana Connections Academy (LACA) is a tuition-free, K–12 online public school that students attend from home. LACA brings a fully accredited public education directly to your family’s door— anywhere in Louisiana. ? The Louisiana Virtual School is a Louisiana Department of Education initiative that provides Louisiana high school students access to standards-based high school courses delivered by certified Louisiana teachers via the Internet.


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