Scholastic Administrator - Back to School 2011 - (Page 36)
More districts are using the DIY model to create online teachers and offer blended courses, all while keeping an ll eye on the bottom line. ye
BY MICHELLE LOCKE LOCK
, tin Kipp’s high school English class last year was as traditional as could be. She led her students through the classic American story of Nick, Jay, and Daisy’s adven adveny, tures i The Great Gatsby; the class dis disres in e Gatsb cussed, debated, and wrote about F. Scott ssed, Fitzgerald’s novel. But Kipp never met tzgerald’s any of her students—the entire class was y taught online with e-mails, discussion ught boards, phone calls, and webinars. webinars This mode of learning has become is increasingly popular, and more schools creasingly are exploring the net benefits of going e online to offer more, and more advance advanced, line courses for students. urses students
How Popular Is It? w It
I 2000, about 50,000 students. The latest data out show more t an 4 million students. than ow tudent That’s still only a dent in reaching the at’s total 55 million students in K–12, but it’s tal “the fastest growing innovation any anyhe where in K–12 education, and that’s sig sigere nificant,” says Susan Patrick, president ficant,” and CEO of the International Association d for K–12 Online Learning (iNACOL) (iNACOL). r Some classes are 100 percent online, me like Kipp’s course, part of the curri currike cula offered by Jefferson County Public la Schools near Denver; some are blended, hools meaning they include in- rson su in-person support. anin rt.
trol over the process? It can be done, says Quinn Kellis, assistant superintendent of Dysart Unified School District, about 20 miles northwest of Phoenix, which opened its iSchool last spring. But “there has to be a tremendous amount of support built into the program. It would be a catacata strophic failure to assume just because rophic students are enrolled that they’re going to udents independently do all the work and finish dependently on time. time.” Funding is a big issue when deciding nding to offer Web courses, and Dysart’s decideci sion to jump online was partly motivated on by students taking credit-recovery classclass es from outside online providers, which meant the district was losing approxiant approx mately $1.5 million a year, Kellis says. tely re More important, students were finishing e havi grasped the courses without having gra ed the necessary skills, he says says. cessary Setting up the iSchool cost about ttin u $300,000, with additional annual costs 00,000, projected to be about $250,000, so ojected Dysart’s online effort is not so much sart’s a moneymaker as a money saver, says Kellis. Meanwhile, officials can be confi confillis. dent their students have access to high highnt quality curricula. ality curricula The iSchool began with a focus e on credit-recovery opportuopportu nities and is now adding ties honors and el ctive nors a elective courses. urses
Web b Teacher Musts acher Must
marks of a skilled online teachrks killed nline te h er starts with the traditional qualifiualifi cations, mastery of the subject material, tions, and the ability to deliver it. But online d teachers need a few more skills in their achers toolbox. olbox Tech Tolerance Online teachers don’t line ch Tolerance: have to be computer experts, but they ve must be comfortable with technology st and flexible enough to be ready with d alternatives if glitches occur occur. ternatives
mpanies Companies like Blackboard and Moodle ovide provide online platforms. A number of mpanies companies design the courses, including 2 K12 and Florida Virtual School (FLVS). But what of the school that wants to t take more of a DIY approach due to bud ke budget constraints or a desire to retain con t con36
PHOTO: ROGER HAGADONE O: HAGADON
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