I attended a meeting in Napier yesterday with principals, DPs and ICT facilitators of five secondary schools in the region involved in an ICTPD programme. I came away really encouraged by the thinking and approaches being contemplated.
One of the things we discussed was the development of the New Zealand Video Conferencing Cluster Network – with an increasing number of schools providing students with the opportunity to take the subjects of their choosing by estblishing a means of sharing staff, resources and students on a collaborative basis.
An article referenced in the latest edition of the eLearning Journal points to similar developments in Arizona in the US:
“An estimated 3,500 Arizona children are expected to log on to education’s newest trend of virtual schooling, as the state’s cyberschools report increases in enrollment this year over last school year. Under Arizona law, there is no limit on cyberenrollment in these free public schools and no school district boundaries. Children from Page to Globe and the farthest corner of the Navajo Reservation are enrolling in the long- distance schools. ‘As the information has gotten out there, people are saying, “Wow, there are virtual schools.” They have filled a much-needed gap,’ said Brad Lester, director of online expansion for Primavera Online High School.”
Full story from The Arizona Replublic Online Print Edition
This article highlights several key ideas for me that we should be including in our discussions here in NZ as we contemplate the future direction of the VC Cluster Schools Network:
- Under Arizona law, there is no limit on cyberenrollment in these free public schools and no school district boundaries.
- the cyberschools provide flexible options, from taking all courses online to supplementing face-to-face programmes
- evidence of a learner-centred approach – not seen as an alternative for disaffected kids, but an option for every student, catering for differences in style and choice. quote; “Bottom line is there is no such thing as a student who wants to drop out,… if you provide the right school, everyone will be successful.”
- Not all of the programme is online – includes print-based resources, books etc.
- can include blended approaches where students gather at a common location to complete cyberschool studies under the supervision of teachers
- seen as a strategic future direction – not just a niche for a few.
Well done Arizona! Let’s see what we can do in NZ to leverage the good work already started in our own network of clusters!