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Saturday, 14 November 2009

Virtual Schooling ?

Graphic: Logo for ReViCaFollowing on from my previous post I wanted to explore with you the impact of 'Virtual Schooling' and came upon a post by Tony Bates commenting on the newsletter from ReViCa. This looks like a document that we should all be watching.

However, as a footnote to the newsletter was the link to Morten Flate Paulsen's book 'Online Education'. Although somewhat dated (pub 2003) and at 338 pages (.pdf) it is still a serious read. The following SlideShare brings out just a few of the salient points to whet appetites:

I make no excuse for quoting this academic document which deals primarily with 'Virtual Learning' across Higher Education in Europe. I believe that mainstream schooling can have much to learn from such documents. - It is just a pity that teachers in Secondary schools do not have the time to produce such works.

I quote, below, a number of key points identified as, ' Fourteen interventions to stimulate learner persistence and reduce dropouts.' Most of these points should be discussed in relation to on-line learning and virtual schools:
  1. Students’ active participation should be sought in planning remedial or introductory courses.
  2. Interviews with students while in their first year (or even before it starts).
  3. Skilled diagnostic counseling to “help each applicant to explore his aims, motivation and commitment and comprehend how they might relate to the ... [institution]”
  4. Counselling-out of high risk students.
  5. “Conditional registration ... after students have taken advantage of the counseling service, every effort should be made by the University to ensure that they are able to follow the courses they really want... Students interested in courses which entail projects should be made aware of the volume of work involved and the type of library resources required (especially remote students)”.
  6. “Counselors, academic advisors, course designers, and administrators of distance-taught programs should develop a diagnostic and remedial program to assist students in organizing their time and energy toward a successful completion of their study program”.
  7. Regulate the study load of students.
  8. Active tutorial assistance during the course. This might be provided either face-to-face or via mediated communications.
  9. Examination of students’ completed assignments to analyze students’ cognitive learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, and affective responses to the instructional materials.
  10. Provide option of longer time period for students with difficulty to complete the course.
  11. Monitor the performance of participant instructors for needs amenable to improve via in-service training.
  12. Distance education institutions should develop programs to enhance their academic status and social credibility so as to enhance student satisfaction and commitment.
  13. Concentrate resources for student advising and other assistance on the more vulnerable first-year students.
  14. Periodical redesign of courses and print (on line? -ed) materials. Cookson (1990)

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