Emerging Policy Debates in Virtual Education

Interesting what you come across in airport lounges –  reading through my RSS feeds while waiting for my plane to board I came across a recent publication from Education Week titled eLearning 2010 – assessing the agenda for change – a special report on the emerging policy debates in virtual education.

I found this of particular interest – especially after our discussions at the VLN meeting today where we were looking at how we could bring more of what the VLN members are doing into the mainstream of education.

Yesterday I shared how I had heard Sir Mason Durie assert that distance education practices are now the ‘preferred’ mode of schooling. The very first chapter in this paper describes what is called a ‘hybrid’ approach that is taking off because it offers academic classes not otherwise available to many students –  not too dissimilar to the case studies described by Prof Durie yesterday, and of the experience of the VLN teachers discussed today. In this case, the case of a group of Idaho school students is described, where they now have a choices of classes including French and Spanish, college-level study, digital photography, and criminal justice – all because principal Benjamin M. Merrill has created “Pirate Academy,” a roster of online
courses that students can take as part of their regular school day.

There are some thought provoking contributions in the paper – including a look at ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning approach vs. fixed time frames for classes; how the needs of at-risk students can be catered for; scalability and enrolment cap issues; and how to make it all sustainable. Loads of useful reading here for anyone interested in blended, virtual, online and distance learning.

Leave a Reply