After reading this week, I have a greater understanding of several elements of virtual learning and computer-assisted instruction! It now makes sense to me that the suppliers are contracted outsource providers of instructional services to schools. They simply supply the materials but have no responsibilities for student activity, assessments, or performance. Schools, on the other hand, are entities that carry the primary responsibilities for the students’ education. I appreciated the first diagram displaying “Students” as the focal point when looking at it and everything else generating out from there. Also interesting, student success in online courses correlates directly with local school support. It was interesting to see the number of students enrolled in public schools verses charter/virtual schools; 50.1 million (public) to 2.9 million (charter). 84% of students in the United States are enrolled public schools. It sparked the question of how fast the number is increasing and will it maintain this rate? This question was answered after viewing other charts in this reading. My conclusion is that there is no definite answer. Some states have had more virtual students in the past and not as many currently, some states have continued to increase numbers each year and then some states fluctuate from year to year. What are some virtual schools doing to gain over 14,000 students while others have a few hundred? I’m wondering if Virginia is the next state to have larger enrollments. The top five virtual schools are all in the South East and directly under Va. (Figure 17) I’m guessing that Florida has almost half of the total number of all virtual school students because of the culture of families, athletics, weather, and work opportunities there. Virginia’s average courses per student number is the 2nd highest at 2.04 compared to North Dakota with the highest at 3.03, which was interesting to me. Summer School enrollments are growing at a faster rate. School systems are utilizing this as a way to reduce budgets and it’s great for flexibility in traveling or medical concerns for students and families. When reading about policy, I read what I know…. While Common Core has given many districts reason to increase number of computers and broaden online activities, attention to professional development and other curriculum and instruction activities that is needed doesn’t allow sufficient time to devote to shifting instruction to more of a digital model. Thus we have technology that we’re not aware of, don’t have enough of, or not working/assessable. I wasn’t aware that Virginia is one of only five states to require students to complete an online course or learning “experience” prior to graduation.
I chose to read the blog “Bridging the Gaps, Tightening the Curriculum” on the iNacol website. It reminds me to slow down and reflect on each student’s skill set as much if not more than what I’m required to teach or reach! All students have gaps and unless we help to fill them in, we won’t meet the instructional goals. Differentiation comes to mind and is what we should all be doing for each student. It’s not a choice, it’s a requirement! I respect not thinking about time as a variable, but about how to be more effective within the time the students have through intentional, instructional, and curricular strategies. We too, as a system, are doing more of cross grade levels communicating as to what is expected at each level, ensuring we’re using the same language so the students are better prepared to learn at the next level.
I definitely plan on reading more of these articles, “maybe on a snow day”, because I wasn’t able to get to all of the information. I look forward to viewing a few more webinars!