Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter - May 2011 Issue

Monday, 30 May 2011

Welcome to the Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter

In this newsletter you will find a series of news articles about innovation inspired by the use of ICT and applied to secondary and post-secondary education for 14-21 year olds in Europe and elsewhere. It is being sent to a network of stakeholders, policy-makers, experts and cutting-edge practitioners who are actively involved in researching, representing or supporting change in educational provision brought about by the digital agenda.


It 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.  This review will be made public in the Virtual Schools and Colleges wiki which will be launched in September 2011.


The Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter will be published every 2 months and will also be used to keep you up to date with news from the VISCED partnership and to support dialogue with the wider community. So send us news about developments related to virtual schools and colleges, share this newsletter with your colleagues and join us in creating the Virtual Schools and Colleges wiki.

Project news

The VISCED partners have been meeting this week in Sheffield to discuss the work to date and to plan for the final stages of the project. This meeting also included a gathering of the project's International Advisory Committee where the outputs of the project including critical success factors for the successful deployment of virtual schools were discussed and validated. Key discussion topics for the meeting included the finalisation of key project outputs and exploitation plans for the project once the funding period comes to an end in December 2012. 

A workshop proposal entitled 'Investigating Innovative e-learning initiatives and Virtual Schools' has been accepted for ALT-C 2011. Organised by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and entitled 'Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate', this conference will take place at the University of Leeds in the UK from 6 to 8 September 2011.



The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced more than $20 million in grants to support game-based learning and other digital tools to help schools adopt the new Common Core standards in English and math.

Sara Bernard, writing in MindShift recently, investigates the requirements for virtual school teachers.In her article Sara interviews Maureen Cottrell, a science teacher at iHigh Virtual Academy, a fully-accredited virtual public high school in San Diego, California. Maureen describes her experience and the advantages and drawbacks of online learning.

The building of a new school in a remote part of the UK has led to an interesting local debate on the value of virtual schooling as a way to overcome limitations in facilities and a lack of resources.

The Indian schooling systems is one the largest education systems in the world comprising of over a million schools. However, over a hundred million children still do not have access to schools due to inadequate infrastructure. We asked Sandeep Aneja, MD of Kaizen Management Advisors Private Limited, to tell us about a relatively new phenomenon in India – public private schools. Sandeep’s company manages India's first operations driven private equity fund focused on the $100 billion education sector.


According to the recently published European Commission report “Progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training - Indicators and benchmarks, 2010/11” EU countries have improved their education systems in key areas over the past decade but they have achieved only one out of five benchmarks set for 2010.

The debate around the actual cost of online learning, its impact on and benefits for different types of educational institutions and teaching situations is as ever-present as the discussion surrounding possible existence of extraterrestrial life forms or trying to find any underlying logic behind stock market fluctuations.

This thesis studies designs for learning in the extended digital interface in the Social Science classroom. The aim is to describe and analyse how pupils interact, make meaning and learn while deploying digital learning resources.

Featured Virtual School Initiative

Ross Tensta Gymnasium (RTG) is a public school in Stockholm and a partner in the VISCED project. The school is located in a low social status suburb inhabited mostly by immigrants or people with immigrant background.


The EDEN Open Classroom Conference takes place on 27-29 October in Ellinogermaniki Agogi School in Athens, Greece. This conference will cover a wide variety of subject areas related to innovative education technologies and current best practice trends in education, transformative inclusion and teachers’ professional development. More information is available from the EDEN website.


iTEC (Innovative Technologies for an Engaging Classroom) is a four-year, pan-European project focused on the design of the future classroom.

Eurydice is an executive agency of the European Commission that provides factual information and reports on education systems and policies in Europe.

Paul's Blog

The VISCED project (which formally started on 1 January 2011) has now reached the stage where those following the project will notice a lot of new material appearing in the next few months on the wiki it is using. The VISCED project has decided to build on the success (both in wiki terms and more generally) of the Re.ViCa project on Virtual Campuses. Here are some details.

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.