Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter - November 2011 Issue

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Welcome to the November edition of the Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter

This edition of our 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.


UNESCO Launchs ICT Competency Framework for Teachers

UNESCO in partnership with industry leaders and global subject experts has elaborated the ICT Competency Framework for Teachers which sets out the competencies required to teach effectively. This current version of the ICT Competency Framework for Teachers is a 2011 update of the original version published in 2008, and is the result of the successful continued partnership between UNESCO and CISCO, INTEL, ISTE and Microsoft.

iNACOL releases National Standards for Quality Online Courses in the US

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) recently released the second version of National Standards for Quality Online Courses. The standards selected are based on the original standards, the results of a research review and survey of online course quality criteria. These quality standards were evaluated and assembled into an easy to use document for evaluating online courses with common benchmarks.

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Boldic Award for online course on Multimedia Journalism

International Advisory Committee (IAC) member Morten Flate Paulsen from NKI Nettstudier in Norway, together with colleagues from Berghs School of Communication in Stockholm, and the Danish School of Media and Journalism were the recent winners of the Boldic Award for their unique Scandinavian online course on Multimedia Journalism.

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Wall St Journal Article about virtual schools in the US

Stephanie Bachero and Stephanie Simon Writing recently in the Wall St Journal provide an interesting set of examples of students in the US attending virtual schools. This in-depth article highlights many of the issues faced by virtual schools not the least of which is the finding in some US states that scores of full-time virtual school students fall behind those of their traditional peers.

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US College online programmes face sanctions

In an eCampus report of Nov 17, Dennis Carter reports that colleges in the US may have to stop their online programmes. The states affected are Massachusetts, Arkansas and Minnesota who may have to withdraw their online programmes from those states in response to a much-debated set of regulations which require schools to gain approval from every state in which they have even one online student. Read more in eCampus.

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UNESCO (2011)Transforming Education: The Power of ICT Policies

This recently published UNESCO report cites examples of ICT take-up from different regions of the world – Africa, Arab region, Asia and Latin America – and provides a good illustration of the changes that ICT bring to education systems and policies.

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Enrollment in full-time virtual schools in the US rose 25 percent in 2010-11

A report by the Evergreen Education Group presented at the 2011 Virtual School Symposium hosted by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) makes for interesting reading. This report “2011 Keeping Pace with Online K-12 Learning: An Annual Review of Policy and Practice,” provides an overview of the latest policies, practices, and trends affecting online learning programmes across all 50 states.

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The Future of Learning: Preparing for Change

The Future of Learning: Preparing for Change is the most recent JRC report (edited by Christine Redecker and Yves Punie) which tries to identify, understand and visualise major changes to learning in the future. The overall vision is that personalisation, collaboration and informalisation (informal learning) are at the core of learning in the future. These terms are not new in education and training but will have to become the central guiding principle for organising learning and teaching in the future.

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Publication of new edition of Pedagogical Integration of ICT: Successes and Challenges from 100+ African Schools

The PanAfrican Research Agenda aimed to better understand how the pedagogical integration of ICT can improve the quality of teaching and learning in Africa. In the first project phase, national research teams gathered data on the educational use of ICT in 13 countries: Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, Central African Republic, Uganda, Mozambique, Mali, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Congo, Cameroon, and South Africa, and Zambia. The research team have now published a new edition  of their report on this work.

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Featured Virtual School Initiative

On arriving at Open High School in the Sydney suburb of Randwick (a short bus ride from central Sydney and within walking distance of Bondi Junction) Barry Phillips from Sero was welcomed by the Principal, Deputy Principal, Head Teacher E-Learning and Head Teacher for Enrolment.  Open High School is a New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Communities (DEC) distance-education secondary school which offers courses in 13 languages to students from Years 9 to 12. Open High School is located in a former ‘physical’ school site.


VISCI is a Finnish research project which concentrates on building digital services and tools for distributed creative work. The project began in 2009 and continues until the end of 2012. The project is multidisciplinary in its nature and combines research competence from several research fields.

The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre and its 14 members have developed a training model emphasizing team work, peer learning and concrete deeds. Teachers introduce ideas from this training into practice and share them with their colleagues. This is a two year project, started in June 2011 and ends in May 2013 and is financed by the National Board of Education.

Project news

Meeting of Virtual Schools and Colleges International Advisory Committee in Berlin

The next meeting of the International Advisory Committee and invited guests of the VISCED porject will take place on Wednesday 30 November in Berlin. This whole day meeting with serve as a guide to the project's work to date and will in particular comment on questions to do with policy as the VISCED research team turn their attention to national virtual schooling strategies.

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