Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter - November 2012 Issue

Friday, 30 November 2012

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

This 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.

Project news

VISCED policy recommentations presented at ALT-C

Barry Phillips from Sero Consulting gave a well-received presentation at the recent ALT conference held in the University of Manchester from 11 - 13 September. Barry highlighted the first set of policy recommendations emerging from the work of the VISCED team during his presentation. The conference, entitled  ALT-C 2012 – a confrontation with reality brought together a variety of different voices, largely coming from UK higher education but with a significant number of people from the college sector which was of particular interest for the VISCED team. More information about the conference is available from the ALT C website.

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Successful EFQUEL Innovation Forum in Spain

The recent EFQUEL Innovation held in Granada, Spain on 26-28 September provided a useful opportunity for the VISCED team to share the main outputs of the project. Paul Bacsich from Sero gave a presentation entitled “Results as we near the end” which provided a summary of the main outcomes of the VISCED work up to September 2012 including the policy recommendations and success factors. An overview of the 2012 forum which includes recordings of keynote speakers is available here.

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Summary brochure available about the VISCED project

An 8 page glossy brochure summarising the main findings of the VISCED Project has been produced by the project team and is available for distribution. This publication is currently available in English however Danish, Estonian, Greek, Finnish, Swedish and Dutch versions will be available shortly. The brochure describes the prevalance of virtual schools and colleges in Europe and includes a series of short descriptions of examples, a set of key success factors and a list of main recommendations.

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Giles Pepler from Sero Consulting presented the VISCED project during the Media & Learning Conference held in Brussels on 14-15 November. During his presentation, Giles highlighted the ways in which virtual schools and colleges use media to support their learning offer. Giles also managed a stand at the conference where copies of the project handbook and brochure proved to be a very popular giveaway amongst conference participants. Media & Learning attracted more than 280 people from 41 countries, videos and presentations will be available from the online programme and the conference report will be available shortly.

The first of two volumes of the VISCED Handbook entitled "Virtual Schools and Colleges - Providing Alternatives for Successful Learning" is now available from the project team. This volume includes a summary of virtual school and college activity around the world, a series of case studies, a description of a set of innovative piloting activities supported by the project and  a chapter on policy challenges and opportunities. The second and final volume of this handbook will be available in December.

Meeting of International Advisory Committee taking place in Berlin

A half day meeting of the VISCED International Advisory Committee is taking place on Wednesday 28 November in Berlin. The agenda for this meeting will include a discussion about Key and Critical Success Factors for virtual schools and colleges, and will be based in the outcomes of several project reports. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss policy challenges, opportunities and recommendations for the future.

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Presentation of VISCED at Online Educa Berlin

A presentation of the VISCED project will be given by Nikolaos Zygouritsas, Lambrakis Foundation, Greece on Friday 30 November during a parallel session taking place from 11.45 - 13.00. This session is entitled "An online learning environment can go beyond replication of traditional classroom learning. Online Universities, Distance Learning, Virtual Schools: what makes them work and are they really innovative places?" and will be chaired by Paul Bacsich. The title of Nikos' presentation is "Virtual Schools as Innovative ICT-Enhanced Learning/Teaching Exemplar Initiatives: What Makes Things Work?"

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Critical Success Factors for Virtual Schools presented at EDEN Conference

Ilse Op de Beeck from KU Leuven gave a presentation about VISCED at the recent EDEN Research workshop held in KU Leuven on 23-24 October. This presentation, entitled "Virtual Schools and Colleges in Europe: Looking for Success Factors" was made on behalf of the VISCED partner EFQUEL and provided an overview of the process in which partners are engaged to identify a relevant set of success factors for the virtual school sector.

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European Virtual School and College research presented at iNACOL

Paul Bacsich, VISCED Coordinator, took part in the recent iNACOL Virtual School Symposium entitled "Inventing the Future of Learning" which took place from 21-24 October in New Orleans. This symposium brought together over 2,000 representatives from national, state, district, private, and other virtual school programs to take part in the largest K-12 online and blended learning conference of its kind in the US. Find out more from the conference website.

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Join us for a free webinar on the outputs of VISCED on 10 December

The VISCED Project partners are organising a webinar to present the main findings of the project on Monday 10 December at 15:00 CET. This one hour webinar will provide a summary of the main outputs of the project including a description of the status of virtual schools and colleges in Europe. It will also summarise a set of recommendations generated through the work of the partners related to how best to foster and encourage effective virtual schooling options for those who could best benefit from flexible alternatives to traditional schools and colleges.

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Australia looks towards virtual classrooms recently reported that the Victoria state government will resort to using "virtual classrooms" - where multiple schools share the same teacher over the internet - as it may not have enough qualified staff to fulfil its promise to teach every child a second language. Before the last state election, Ted Baillieu promised a languages revival in which every Victorian student up to year 10 would be required to take on a language by 2025, starting with prep in 2015.

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Official government report suggests changes in Swedish legislation

A recent report in Sweden may make virtual schooling more available. The basic argument contained in this report is that every child should have an equal right to education. The report suggests that children in community care and children in need of distance education (such as children engaged in elite training) should be able to take part in distance or remote education.

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Designing the Future Classroom Project actively engaged in pilot activities

iTEC (Innovative Technologies for Engaging Classrooms) is a major EU-funded project in which European Schoolnet is working with education ministries, technology providers and research organisations to bring about transformation in learning and teaching through the strategic application of learning technology. The project lasts from 2010 to 2014. The most recent newsletter available from iTEC describes current activities in the project which includes the launch of Cycle 3 at the iTEC teacher workshop, the availability of recommendations on mainstreaming pilot results and the creation of the iTEC Knowledge Map. Visit the iTEC website to find out more about what is happening in the project.

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Extra funding available in the US to support literacy projects

The U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently announced the award of $28 million for 46 first-time grants that aim to improve literacy skills for students in high-need districts and schools. Funded for the first time under the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Program, grants are designed to increase student achievement by promoting early literacy for young children and by motivating older children to read. "Literacy is the key to higher learning and a window to the world," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

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e2020 Inc. Goes ‘Back to School’ with Courses based on New Interactive Instructional Model

High engagement curriculum -­ media-rich, personalized - appeals to today’s digital learners. One of the fastest-growing providers of online learning solutions, recently announced that it has released a large selection of courses for the 2012-2013 school year. These courses were built on a new instructional model and expressly designed to meet US state and Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

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iNACOL annual review

iNACOL has published its annual report on the status of online and blended learning in US schools. Entitled "Keeping Pace with K-12 online and blended learning - an annual Review of Policy and Practice" this ninth annual report provides a comprehensive overview of various trends and developments. In their opening snapshot the authors point to four themes that stand out from their research. First that while many US states have created or allowed some online and blended learning opportunities, apart from Florida, no state has yet created or allowed a full range of online learning options for students.

Latest edition of E-xcellence Manual on quality assessment published

The newest version of the E-xcellence Manual entitled "Quality Assessment for E-learning: a Benchmarking Approach" was launched at the 25th EADTU Anniversary Conference in Pafos/Cyprus. This manual is the main product of a suite of EU funded projects undertaken under the auspices of EADTU: E-xcellence (2005-2006), E-xcellence plus (2008-2009) and E-xcellence Next (2011-2012). The overall aim of these projects has been to develop a methodology and supporting resources for the quality assurance of e-learning in higher education.

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.