Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter - September 2011 Issue

Friday, 30 September 2011

Welcome to the September 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.


Take a look at a different kind of school

eLearningeuropa's TV channel contains an expanding series of videos clips highlighting all sorts of developments in education. This includes a recent report from Hellerup Skole in Denmark - a very different type of school.

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Katie Ash writing in Education Week this week, describes the value and impact online learning can have for gifted students who can move ahead independently to reach their own learning goals with the help of well designed online learning opportunities.

Erich Tusch is the supervisor of technology for the Pascack Valley Regional High School District in the US and in a special edition of the New Jersey School Boards Association newsletter describes in detail the 10 year history of rolling out a laptop for every student in his school.

Launch of Global Learning School Initiative in Portugal

Claudio Dondi, President of Scienter launched a major global Learning School Initiative during the EFQUEL Forum in Oeiras, Portugal on Friday 16 September. This Initiative calls for a federated, worldwide effort to make schools fit for the future.

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Seminar for distance upper secondary schools in Finland

The National Board of Education arranged a seminar for distance upper secondary schools in September. The target group included principles, distance learning teachers and developers, and other distance learning experts. Nearly 70 people were present.

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Eurydice has recently published a report entitled "Key Data on Learning and Innovation through ICT at School in Europe 2011 in European schools" which focuses on the evolution of ICT use in education and the changes it has brought about in national policies and practices concerning teaching methods, contents and evaluation processes.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, with the support of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, has commissioned six deep-thought papers that the Institute hopes will collectively address the thorniest policy issues surrounding digital learning.

This report published by the US Department of Education in August 2011 provides a summary of an extensive research project carried out by researchers over a 2 year period. The IETE project focused on primary and secondary level education and was conducted in two phases in 2009-10.  During the first phase, researchers conducted literature and Internet searches for multi-national data collections. 

A pilot study by Elizabeth Hartnell-Young in 2008 into personal mobile use in schools for Becta provided a number of key messages for schools about introducing mobile devices for learning.

Terry Anderson and Jon Dron from Athabasca University in Canada have published an interesting paper which traces the pedagogy behind distance education over several generations, namely cognitive-behaviourism, social constructivism, and connectivism. 

The University of Turku published their first results of research on the status of distance learning in Finnish basic education. Distance learning is organised in very different ways in Finland and using a variety of different tools and mechanisms. Very traditional ICT tools (email, eLearning platforms and video conferences) and traditional learning materials (books, internet) are being used within distance learning courses.

Checking out attitudes amongst Finnish secondary level students

Recently published research in Finland entitled ”Upper secondary school 2.0” was targeted at students aiming to identify the expectations and issues related to the use of distance and e-learning from the students point of view. According to the report “ICT could very well be used to offer distance and video courses especially in those schools where resources make it difficult to offer wide range of courses.

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Virtual School Symposium (VSS) taking place in the US

This symposium takes place on 9-11 November 2011 in Indianapolis, USA. It will bring together over 2,000 representatives from national, state, district, private and other virtual school programmes to attend the industry's leading event in K-12 online and blended learning.

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Teachers planning to implement Web 2.0 elements in their classes often look for inspiration and opportunities to exchange their experience with other teachers as well as easy access to information about tools. The service has been set up to address these needs.

Project news

First meeting of VISCED International Advisory Committee takes place in Portugal

The first meeting of VISCED's International Advisory Committee (IAC) took place on Wednesday 14 September as part of the pre-conference activities related to the EFQUEL Innovation Forum which took place 14-16 September 2011 in Oeiras, Portugal.

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We have spent September collecting together the various kinds of virtual schools we have found, both in Europe and outside it. We have also from the partners begun to make visits to virtual schools when they are close to partner locations - to begin to prepare for the case studies in Work Package 3. Classification is a big topic but one where we have much experience. However one topic that is newer to us is that there seem to examples of virtual schools which do not want to admit that there are virtual schools who do not seem to regard themselves as virtual schools or do not even want to admit that they offer distance learning to some categories of students.

This is not uncommon in some universities and some colleges in some countries - but in schools, where there is more of a need for an aspect of supervising younger children, it is perhaps more surprising.

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.