Great responses on Susan Patrick’s part to David Nagel’s interview. I am convinced that we need to abandon the failed technology integration approaches of the last 17 years and switch to online learning. If we were looking for a  movement to get behind, it’s clearly not Web 2.0 or Read/Write Web as powerful as that is…it is using these tools within the context of online learning to rethink what we do "for school."

Thanks to Nagel and THE Journal for this interview!

    • Q&A: iNACOL’s Susan Patrick on Trends in eLearning

    • At last count, there were more than 1 million enrollments in K-12 online schools in the United States. And according to recent research, the number of students taking courses online will jump to more than 10 million in the next five years.

    • iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. iNACOL is an advocacy and research organization that focuses on issues in K-12 online schooling. It represents a broad spectrum of groups centered around education, including schools themselves, state and local education agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, and various technology and content providers. Just this month, iNacol released the first-ever standards for K-12 online education programs, National Standards for Quality Online Programs.

    • The first online programs in K-12 education really started in the mid-1990s. Florida Virtual School and Kentucky Virtual School started in 1996. By 2000, there were about 40,000 enrollments in K-12 online learning–the estimate’s between 40,000 and 50,000 enrollments nationwide. By 2002, there were 300,000 enrollments in K-12 online learning. By 2005, there were 500,000 enrollments. And the last data that came out last year shows that in 2007 there were more than a million enrollments in K-12 online learning.

    • For an innovation in K-12 education to grow that rapidly–it’s growing at more than 30 percent annually–is remarkable

    • National surveys show that more than 40 percent of middle and high school students want to take an online course.

    • The No. 1 reason for a school district to offer an online course is that the course is otherwise unavailable.

    • There are major teacher shortages of math and science [teachers] all over the country, [as well as teachers of] foreign languages…. Forty percent of high schools do not offer AP classes.

    • The second thing is it’s really helping to meet the individual needs of students. The traditional model of education is to line 30 kids up in a classroom and teach one way–through lecture–to all of those students with one single textbook. Online learning allows a level of customization and personalization that is otherwise really impossible because of time constraints and capital constraints.

    • [it] is allowing a level of personalization, of flexibility [that’s really] allowing students to go deeper than they ever have before.

    • Online learning is the solution for extending learning time….

      The Silent Epidemic study [from] the Gates Foundation [showed] 88 percent of [dropouts] had passing grades and could have finished, but they’re dropping out because they’re disenfranchised. They feel like they’re not challenged. They wish classes were more rigorous. If we keep doing the same thing and just hold them in school for longer hours, to me that doesn’t make any sense.

    • taking students only from the neighborhood [in which the graduation rate was] only 40 percent, taking those students and retraining teachers to use online courses and and all of these collaboration and discussion tools. In a traditional class, it’s not cool in their neighborhood to raise their hand and have a lot of discussion, so they’re doing these … silent chats, silent discussions, where they’re taking the online coursework and having discussions. The teachers think it’s amazing because instead of just having one kid raise their hand, they’ve got 15 different students posting and sharing ideas and making it relevant to their world, and they’re getting so much deeper. After the first year, they’ve got more than 80 percent of their kids on track for graduating on time and getting accepted to college.

    • It’s a redesign of the instructional strategy and a redesign of the curriculum away from "stand and deliver" in a single textbook to [focusing on] what … you really need to do to engage these students and make them active learners who want to be successful in their own lives.

    • The two biggest issues are the funding and the licensure…. It’s really the adults learning what online learning is. There’s still this misconception in K-12 education that there’s a computer screen teaching your student, not that you’re connected to a teacher that’s leading discussion, that’s monitoring your homework, that’s doing some live, interactive sessions with you on a whiteboard.

    • A lot of counselors understand intuitively that when a student is advanced and [wants] to take an AP course, they’re comfortable with that. But the opportunities for credit recovery for struggling students to have this more personalized dynamic interaction, a lot of people don’t understand how helpful it can be.

    • it really comes down to [policymakers adopting] a broader perspective of what’s possible in the 21st century.

    • through online learning, K-12 teachers have opportunities to teach one course part-time or be adjunct faculty members or teach full-time and switch their load up so they teach some classes online and some classes face to face.

    • There’s a study called Going Virtual! that shows that the average teacher going online has more than seven years of experience. A lot of people left the classroom with all of those years of experience because [of] the environment they were in–a lack of leadership support, whatever reason they left for–are applying at virtual schools, getting retrained to teach online, and then love that added flexibility that they have.

    • Susan Lowes at Columbia University did some research on this and showed that [K-12 teachers are] bringing those technology tools and the new strategies using the Internet back into their face-to-face classes, and it’s actually improving the overall teaching and their skill sets and how they can do discussions different ways.

    • [based on] the work from the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, we lose 30 percent of our new teachers within three years and 50 percent of our new teachers within five years in K-12 education. I wouldn’t say that the virtual school teachers’ retention rates are any worse than that.

    • Taking a really great teacher and then giving them a bunch of technology tools so that that same group of students can do more is fine. But making fundamental shifts in access and teacher quality and how we design education to me is a lot more interesting.

    • If you train somebody how to fully teach online, then they can use those skills in a classroom or virtually.

    • if our digital investments are really underutilized, we really need to look at ways that can profoundly change the learning environment and make sure that those investments are sound.

    • The sunken costs of technology in higher ed also support online learning. That’s ubiquitous high-speed broadband. Eighty-three percent of college classes use a learning management system, whether they’re face to face or otherwise. And that training for the faculty to use that learning management system–even to post their syllabus or assignments or other things like that–[is] really the first step in that direction. Whereas the sunken costs in school districts and states on technology don’t always support virtual learning. You have to find a whole new pocket of money. And to me there’s a real disconnect there.

    • Teacher shortages are a major problem. It is a solution for teacher shortages, changing the distribution of teachers.

      Engagement is a huge problem for students in the current model. Dynamic online courses and curriculum and training teachers in new strategies to improve that engagement and personalize instruction: [online learning] is a huge solution for that.

    • Omaha Public Schools just switched all of their credit recovery and remediation in summer schools into online format. They’re … using MITE open courseware to do that. So those are some solutions to major problems that are happening in our schools.

    • There are huge opportunities in connecting students globally…. The International Baccalaureate program, which is one of our members, they have started an IB diploma program online, and they have students from 125 different countries participating, collaborating, sharing ideas, communicating, building their second language fluency. Giving kids opportunities that are truly globally connected and academic in nature, I think, is so important in the world that we live in.

    • There’s a study called the Florida TaxWatch Report on the Florida Virtual School [downloadable in PDF form here, approx. 800 KB] that compared all the data both for the AP courses and for the end of course exams in Florida and found that Florida Virtual School, through their online courses, was serving a higher number of minority and underserved students than traditional schools, and those students were performing better on the AP exams than traditional students in traditional schools and better on end of course exams.

    • The study found the average AP exam score for FLVS students was 3.05 versus 2.49 for public school students. FCAT reading and math results were also markedly better for FLVS students than for public school students. Complete details and caveats can be found in the report itself.]

    • Every major study that’s been done has shown that online learning is "as good as or better" when based on student achievement. And this last report that … came out of the Department of Ed [early this summer] shows that it’s better. And considering that kids wouldn’t have access to these classes anyway, even if they were just as good, that would be a huge step in the right direction. But the fact that they’re actually academically more engaging and better is a real sign that we can learn things and shift things.

    • Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media’s online education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at He can now be followed on Twitter at (K-12) or (higher education).

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