Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter - June 2012 Issue

Friday, 29 June 2012

Welcome to the June 2012 edition of the Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter

This edition of our 2012 newsletter contains a variety of articles and reports related to the use of ICT in secondary and post-secondary education for 14-21 year olds in Europe and elsewhere. The Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter is an outcome of the European project VISCED which is carrying out a systematic review of virtual schools and colleges at international and national levels including a study into operational examples of fully virtual schools and colleges.

You are very welcome to send us news about developments related to virtual schools and colleges in your region or country, share this newsletter with your colleagues and join us on the Virtual Schools and Colleges wiki.


New "Race to the Top " competition to enhance teaching in US schools

The US Department of Education recently announced a new "Race to the Top" District competition, one that is aimed squarely at the classroom level with a focus on the relationship between teachers and students. The proposed competition offers nearly $400 million in grants and invites school districts to create plans for individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career. "Race to the Top" supports states that raise standards, build better data systems, evaluate and support principals and teachers, and dramatically transform their lowest-performing schools. Read more here.

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Market offer for technology support in Italian schools heats up

With the recent announcement by Sanako and Toshiba of their agreement to work together its clear that interest in infrastructure support to Italian schools is on the increase despite sever crack-downs in public spending. Sanako will provide classroom-management software for Toshiba’s SCUOLA TECH project which provides a complete solution for Italian schools that are starting to utilize technology in teaching and learning. Find out more from the SCUOLA TECH website.

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Status of Learning Solutions Programme in Finland

The Learning Solutions Programme was launced by Tekes in 2011 to develop internationally competent learning solutions as well a new approaches and skills for modern learning and educational environments. The goal is to develop products and services that serve international markets, too. Learning Solutions is a partnership programme, the main partners being the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish National Board of Education, and the Future Learning Finland export programme launched by Finpro.

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Virtual Schools in the US sign up to Shakespeare In Bots

MindConnex in Ireland recently announced that it has signed up four large virtual schools across North America to its award-winning Shakespeare In Bits online subscription service. Shakespeare In Bits Live! is a cloud-based service that can be accessed from any location through a browser and internet connection. With over 140 schools accessing the service, Shakespeare In Bits Live! is proving a popular choice with traditional and virtual schools, read more on the MindConnex website.

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Michigan increases number of Cyber Charter Schools despite local objections

Oakland County students who are already enrolled in Michigan’s only two cyber charter schools will have more options now that Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law legislation that allows the number of schools offering all classes on computers to increase to 15 by 2015. Many Oakland County superintendents and other educators are opposed to the move to allow more cyber schools before there is more evaluation on the two existing schools that can enroll students anywhere in the state.

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Virtual Schools receive official go-ahead in the Philippines

The Open High School System (OHSS) Act establishing the OHSS as part of the Philippine Department of Education alternative secondary education programme was approved on 1st of June 2012. The OHSS will encourage self-learning and will start piloting alternative quality education through print, TV, radio, Internet, teleconferencing, multimedia and computer. The bill covers all youth and adults who have finished elementary education and all other who qualify for high school education. It will adopt the National Secondary Education Curriculum.

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New Media Consortium Horizon Report for K-12 schools

The well-regarded and recently available NMC Horizon Report on K-12 Education reports on several interesting trends related to virtual schooling. In the report, its expert panel describes the Number One Trend for K-12 schooling for the period 2012-2017 as the shift in Education paradigms to include online learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models. The report states that "Budget cuts have forced schools to re-evaluate their education platforms and find alternatives to the exclusive face-to-face learning models. As such, what once was seen as a challenge has now become an increasingly interesting trend".

Cover of report

The Center for Public Education - National School Boards Association in the US has recently published an interesting report on Virtual Schools in the US. Its main findings include the fact that Online courses and schools enrol a small fraction of the 52 million public school students, but they are rapidly gaining ground. K-12 students take nearly 2 million courses online annually. In addition, about 250,000 students were enrolled full-time in virtual schools in 2010-11, up from 200,000 the year before. The report also found that the development, management and staffing of online courses and schools is supported by both public and private providers. For-profit companies K-12, Inc., and Connections Academy together enrolled nearly half of all full-time online students in 2010-11.

UNESCO Working Paper Series on Mobile Learning

Today there are over 5.9 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, and for every one person who accesses the internet from a computer two do so from a mobile device. Given the ubiquity and rapidly expanding functionality of mobile technologies, UNESCO is enthusiastic about their potential to improve and facilitate learning, particularly in communities where educational opportunities are scarce. This Working Paper Series scans the globe to illuminate the ways in which mobile technologies can be used to support the United Nations Education for All Goals; respond to the challenges of particular educational contexts; supplement and enrich formal schooling; and make learning more accessible, equitable, personalized and flexible for students everywhere.

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Study into research cooperation in Nordic countries

This study maps current and planned education and research cooperation that the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) have with Russia. The study includes bilateral, Nordic, regional, intergovernmental and EU levels, but focuses on the bilateral, national level. The study covers all the fields of research and all educational levels: primary and upper-secondary schools, vocational, higher and adult education. This study is of use on both a national and international level. It serves both readers who wish to obtain an overview of cooperation in bilateral education and research between the Nordic countries and Russia, as well as readers interested in becoming acquainted with the various forms in which Nordic countries cooperate in the fields of education and research with Russia as a whole.

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International survey on educational leadership

The Finnish National Board of Education has subcontracted a wide international survey on the position of educational leaders and education in different countries. The survey was made by Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education of the University of Helsinki. In the survey information on leaderships models and practices were collected from the following countries or regions: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, France (Paris), Scotland, Russia (Saint Petersburg), Canada (Ontario), USA (New York City, Los Angeles), China (Shanghai), South Korea, Australia (state of Victoria) and New Zealand.

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ICDE study on regulatory frameworks for distance education in the Southwest Pacific/ South East Asia Region published

This study presents the outcomes of case studies of nine higher education institutions, and analyses the key regulatory barriers and enablers for distance education for twenty-three countries in the study region. The existing laws, policies, rules and regulations related to distance and online education in the region have been collated in this study and posted in an open database. The frameworks of countries within the region have been compared for similarities and differences, in particular, highlighting those elements that hinder development in distance education. Read the full report.

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VISCED presented at Future of Education Conference in Florence

Daniela Proli from SCIENTER presented VISCED on June 8 at the "Future of Education" conference organised by Pixel in Florence. This conference, now in its second year, is set to be a significant annual event in the elearning calendar and attracted about 250 people, many of whom came from non-EU countries. Daniela provided an overview of the work carried out by the partnership to date and used it as an opportunity to describe how the virtual school phenomenon manifests itself in Europe with a specific reference to the European case studies currently being undertaken by the project team.

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Presentation of VISCED at EDEN Conference in Porto

The annual EDEN Conference took place in Porto this year from 6-9 June. Attracting about 350 participants, this year the theme of the conference was  "Open Learning Generations - Closing the Gap from Generation "Y" to Mature Lifelong Learners" . Paul Bacsich presented the VISCED project in a session featuring significant European and International e-Learning Initiatives where he provided an update on the status of the project and highlighted a number of distinguising features of virtual schooling.

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Have your say on how ICT can help make lifelong learning a reality

A Europe wide consultation into the most relevant change factors and how do they affect lifelong learning is being spear-headed by VISIR, a European initiative bringing together networks representing learners and learning providers. This initiative aims to develop a shared vision about how ICT may help making lifelong learning a reality. Take part in the consulation here.

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Project news

Interviews, presentations and other materials published about the Sheffield Colloquium on Virtual Schools

Following the success of the first ever gathering of Virtual Schools in Europe, a dedicated section of the VISCED project site has been opened which includes interviews with many of the participants. This event took place on 22 May and brought together virtual school practitioners from all over Europe as well as the US. This section also includes recordings of the presentations that were given, the slides and materials shown and links to many relevant websites.

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Paul's Blog

I was fortunate to attend the World OER Congress and Exhibition/Seminar last week at the UNESCO Paris office. The main focus was of course on OER as such but several interesting developments for virtual schools came up. 

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website of car loans reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.