Friday, May 08, 2009

21st century elearning - virtual schools

Yesterday, I attended a presentation by Professor. Niki Davis, University of Canterbury and Bridget Somekh, Canterbury fellow from Manchester Metropolitan University on 21st century elearning at a CPIT lunch time meeting convened by Nick Ford.
An example of 21st century elearning was presented via case studies of virtual schools. This was defined as primary and secondary school students being able to learn from a teacher who was not situated geographically in the same school.

Case studies were presented on the Florida virtual school, Iowa learning online and an example from the UK called ‘not school’ convened by Anglia Ruskin Ultralab (now disbanded). Each virtual school had different organisational and funding structures and met various objectives. What most had in common was the ability to provide access to specialised teachers who were recognised as leaders in their field.

Many virtual schools are set up around video conferencing facilities so that a teacher is able to teach more than one class at a time, one in physically in front of them and another linked to them via video conferencing. This provided opportunities for students in smaller schools and in rural / remote areas to study subjects they were interested in. The UK example catered to students who had been removed from the school system or who had reasons that prevented them from attending school (eg. Victims of bullying).

All in, interesting to learn about the diversity in virtual schooling, be provided with examples of teachers who exemplify good elearning practice and view the technology currently in use.