Virtual School MOOC – Introduction to K-12 Online Learning Research

Posted: April 22, 2013 in Moodle MOOC posts

10 September 2012

Defining K-12 Online Learning

The definitions and their nuances are addressed in this first topic. But for me, I consider equivalent virtual school and cyberschool meaning that the learning is completely online, while blended learning and hybrid learning integrates a face-to-face component plus an online component.

It’s curious that blended learning might be considered a face-to-face learning integrating ICT and the Web. I would have never conceived b-learning with this meaning. 

Describing K-12 Online Learning

I have listened to both screencasts and found the second one particularly interesting since it describes different models of virtual school systems in different continents, in Korea, Australia, NZ. There’s also a table with Clark’s classification of virtual school schemes run in different States in the US.

I was already familiar with INACOL reports and publications that I find very useful. I’m an advocate of elearning, though I think that for children and youngsters it’s important to have face-to-face interaction with teachers and schoolfellows. The personal relationship and social skills are important, democratic respect and tolerance for each other’s opinions points of view.

The teaching methods have to change from traditional transfer of information, the schooltext should no longer be the nuclear tool. Content is abundant in the Internet, guidance to select and explore the best and most adequate is very important, and those skills must be acquired in school, a critical look at what is offered. 

Most of the learning of content can be done outside the school, through the Internet, with all the rich multimedia resources that exist. So the important at school is to be engaged in active learning with peers around projects and collaborative activities.

In Portugal, the elearning is practiced in HE institutions, more thouroughly by the Open University, the Universities and Polytechnics are still grounded on face-to-face courses, some are increasingly engaged in b-learning. 

There’s still much suspicion about assessment and fraud in virtual environments. I don’t know why? As if students were never creative in finding ways of copying in face-to-face tests and exams. If the learning systems were challenging and enjoyable this would never occur. When people understand what they are learning, they don’t need to copy as mimics.

In primary and secondary school levels, online learning is quite exceptional, as an alternative for those pupils that can’t attent school, those with chronic illness and disease, those who are hospitalized, those whose families are constantly moving around (circus families, fair traders, etc),  high competition athletes, and other exceptional situations.

The education system should provide differentiation in learning. The Internet is changing our lives and education is part of it.

When the learning environment is motivating and open, even the teachers get surprised with what the students know and share.

I have been gathering videos about education, innovation, technology in my vidque – http://vidque.com/idabrandao

This video of Khan Academy is one more example which addresses predictions about the future of education and changing of pedagogical models.

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