Virtual Schools and Colleges Newsletter - September 2012 Issue

Friday, 28 September 2012
Welcome to the September 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.


The Portland Press Herald, a daily broadsheet with a circulation of about 50,000 and serving the largest and principal commercial city in the state of Maine recently published a highly controversial report on motives behind publicly funded virtual schools in the state claiming that Maine's digital education agenda is being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to profit on the changes and stating that the online education companies that wish to operate Maine’s virtual schools divert precious public education dollars into profits and dividends while providing education of dubious quality.

The Telefonplan School in Stockholm has taken a radically new approach to education that involves doing away with classrooms and grades and pioneering a system where students learn in groups at their level, not necessarily by age. The architect behind this school, Rosan Bosch, designed the school so children could work independently in open-spaces while lounging, or go to “the village” to work on group-projects.

The Tekes funded FINNABLE 2020 is a value network project that creates new learning ecosystems which enable people to learn regardless of time and place.  The main aim of the project is to create and develop technologically enabled practices that bring added value to learning and teaching and foster social practices that connect learners to global collaboration, promoting life-long learning.

The Systemic Learning Solutions (SysTech) project promotes the learning and teaching of 21st century skills with the aid of Finnish educational know-how and technological learning solutions. The aim is to make systemic learning solutions an integral part of the Finnish education system as well as an essential part of Finnish education export. The goal is that systemic learning solutions are validated and implemented on a large scale into different educational systems.

The ELE project is shaping the foundation of the welfare society nationally and internationally. The Finnish educational system and teacher training at the University of Helsinki have created a strong foundation for Finland’s success in PISA evaluations. The project uses top scientific expertise to develop learning contents, physical spaces and services and networks with the help of new technology, creating a platform for distributing the Finnish equal-opportunity model of teaching and learning both nationally and internationally. You can find out more at the ELE project site.

A recent article in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports on students' reactions to a highschool that combines virtual learning, face-to-face instruction and blended approaches with teachers in the classroom while a student is online in the same room. This new programme at Chaffey District Online High School offers the courses required for college preparedness in California, with the flexibility of allowing students to work at their own schedule with as much supervision and help as they need.

The Commission services (DG EAC) has launched a public consultation on "Opening up Education – a proposal for a European Initiative to enhance education and skills development through new technologies". This consultation is aimed at all stakeholders affected by education and training policies and systems, including school education, vocational education and training, higher education and adult education. Contributions are expected from public authorities, organisations and citizens. The consultation is available until 13 November 2012 - you can access it here.

The US state of Pennsylvania is witnessing the emergence of new partnerships that help cut costs for students attending one of the state's 13 cyber schools. A report in eSchool in late July highlighted the partnership which brings together The Learning Lamp and In-Shore Technologies who are now offering Blended Learning Technologies (BLT), which provides curriculum, teachers, hardware, and tech support for half the cost districts pay when a student enrolls in one the state’s 13 cyber charter schools.

In the July edition of eCampus news there is a report on the problems faced by Ashford University, one of the fastest growing online schools. One of the biggest problems facing this college is the rejection  of its request for accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Ashford's own website makes no mention of these difficulties and continues to make large numbers of college-level courses available online.


Report on growing European eLearning market published

Some impressive figures are mentioned in a report published on 25 September by New Ambient Insight. According to this study, the growth rate for Self-paced eLearning in Western Europe is 5.8% and revenues will reach $8.1 billion by 2016, up from $6.1 billion in 2011, according to this Insight report called, "The Western Europe Market for Self-paced eLearning Products and Services: 2011-2016 Forecast and Analysis." In this regional report, revenue forecasts are broken out for twenty-two countries: Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Austria, Ireland, Slovakia, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, the Czech Republic, and Romania.

Report cover

Cracking The Credit Hour, a new report by Amy Laitinen for The New America Foundation, describes how the growth of online courses and the rise in ‘for profit’ colleges is adding to pressure on US colleges and universities to move away from the traditional ‘seat-time’ based model towards a competency based model. In a move supported by the federal government, some schools, colleges and universities have already migrated to a competency based model – something which is said to have been particularly to the benefit of adult learners.

Schools Open Doors to New E-Learning Rules and Ideas

This special report, part of Education Week's ongoing series on virtual education, examines how US state policymakers, educators, and schools are rethinking and changing the rules for e-learning. It provides analyses on the benefits and drawbacks of these changes, and what to expect during this school year and beyond. Read this eMagazine focusing on US issues.

Canadian study into online learning

A recent article in Contact North reports on the main outcomes of a key Canadian study into online learning.  It showed that Ontario had over 20,000 online courses available from its colleges and universities and that these generated some 485,619 registrations, making Ontario Canada’s leader in online learning. The data also revealed that colleges lead universities in the proportion of their courses available online (23% versus 7%), indicating what the opportunities are for expanding the sector’s online learning provision. Colleges also lead in terms of the number of programs with 20% of college programs available online compared to 6% of university programs.


Webinar “Benchmark Survey on the Best Practices for Implementing Online Learning Programs”

Implementing online learning can be a complex process, and a smooth implementation is critical for success. MDR Education Market Research recently conducted a survey of over 220 educators at all levels on the most critical success factors for implementing credit recovery, online courses, and full time programs. A webinar showcasing the survey results was held on the 20th of September 2012.

Read full article


This documentary film called "The Forbidden Education" is a collectively funded project based on a study which spans eight Latin American countries and analyzes 45 unconventional educational experiences, closely examining the logic of modern schooling and its understanding of education. Available in Spanish, but with English and Portuguese subtitles, it includes includes interviews with more than 90 education professionals who are applying alternative educational proposals.

Project news

“Learners in the Driving Seat”, the 7th EDEN Research Workshop, organised in collaboration with KU Leuven will take place on 22-23 October 2012 in Leuven, Belgium. This year’s workshop reflects on how students are driving teachers and instructors in the fields where new learning technologies play an important role. The VISCED paper "Virtual Schools and Colleges in Europe: Looking for Success Factors" was accepted and will be presented during the conference by Ilse Op de Beeck (KU Leuven).

Featured Virtual School Initiative

The Sunday Times reported on 1 July 2012 that  the Secretary of State for Education (England) Michael Gove "is expected to sign off on a further 80-100 schools in the next 10 days under the Tory policy to let parents, teachers, charities and other groups set up state schools. They will add to the 92 free schools so far approved of which 24 are already open." One  at least is expected to be a virtual school.

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.