Online learning is spreading quickly enough to strain the oversight capacity of departments of education. Small rural districts are now experimenting with delivering 100% online learning experiences where learners are widely distributed and where the costs of transporting them to physical facilities are prohibitive. Where districts are responsible for both brick and mortar schools and their virtual counterparts, it can be difficult for their staff to figure out how to analyze the virtual schools with the same rigor and thoroughness that they bring to conventional schools. In 2013 CODE’s Principal Nathaniel Calhoun worked with The Learning Collective to develop a groundbreaking protocol for the evaluation of virtual schools.
The preparation of this document lead to some immediate opportunities in conducting the evaluation of virtual schools in the U.S. Trying to gauge the success of these institutions is a fascinating undertaking. In some cases, students attend very few live sessions—just a handful per quarter—and interact quite infrequently with their peers. The challenge of online educators becomes the appropriate navigation of the Learning Management System and the ability to find and act upon the data that is gathered by the resources at their disposal.
Strategies for the engagement of parents also become critical, as teachers depend on parents for motivating disengaged youngsters. As teachers around the world adapt their resources and their style to these new sorts of teaching, evaluators will be in an excellent position to share some of the better insights and strategies with others in the field.
Stay tuned for more information on this fast growing area.