EdTech Hero: Candice Dodson, Indiana’s champion for blended learning

Candice Dodson’s greatest strength, as an educator and an innovator, is bringing people together, her colleagues say.

As director of elearning at the Indiana Department of Education, Dodson has nurtured a handful of major initiatives, urging school leaders across the state to embrace blended learning, technology integration and open educational resources. 

One of Dodson’s proudest achievements, she told EdScoop, has been helping school corporations in Indiana design and implement blended learning days in their 180-day academic calendars. Now part of the IDOE eLearning Day Program, which launched in the spring, these flex days can be invoked during inclement weather, planned virtual days, or any time school administrators want to encourage digital learning.

Read more here. 

“It’s never too late”: Virtual school helps people get diploma

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Working mom Erica Royer never finished high school. Now, thanks to a program through Topeka Public Schools, she has the chance to finally get her diploma.

Royer is enrolled in the Topeka Public Schools Virtual School. It’s a web-based program geared towards people over 19 that didn’t earn their high school diploma in four years. It allows people to complete any unfinished credits and transfer them back to their home high school.

The lessons are taught by virtual teachers and assignments are completed online, which makes it more convenient for people like Royer.

“I get off really late in the evening and it’s really convenient to get on the laptop and be able to do it right in my bed,” said Royer.

Read the story and watch the video here. 

14-year-old Denver entrepreneur says online school is part of her recipe for success

DENVER - A 14-year-old entrepreneur from Denver is running her own baking business, and she thinks her online school is part of her recipe for success.  Rain Adams has her own baking business called Bakeology, making specialty cakes, cupcakes and cookies.

The business is going well.  She had $1,000 in orders last month.  But, it requires a lot of time and a flexible school schedule.

Read the story and watch the video here. 

Online Charter School Activists Head to State Capitol Wednesday

Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families Hosts Back to School Rally

[Madison…] Hundreds of parents, students, teachers, administrators and advocates of online public charter schools will gather in Madison on Wednesday, September 17, 2017 for their Back-to-School Rally and State Capitol Field Trip.

“We’re gearing up for another great school year,” said Peder Berg, President of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families. “On Wednesday, we’ll talk a little education policy, empower parents with information and take our message to the Capitol to encourage lawmakers to have the wisdom and the courage to say ‘I Trust Parents.’”

State Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield), a longtime champion of online schools, often called virtual schools, will address the group at the Monona Terrace. The McManus family of Elm Grove will be honored for their more than decade long advocacy on behalf of the coalition. Radio host Jerry Bader of WTAQ in Green Bay will broadcast his show live from the event. In the afternoon, the students will take a guided tour of the Capitol, which celebrates its 100th year in 2017.  WCVSF members will also be dropping off letters to their state legislators and the governor, urging them to support choice in education, specifically to eliminate the bureaucrats’ veto.

Under Wisconsin State Law, open enrollment is basically year round. The wide open enrollment window closed on April 28th, but the only way a student cannot enroll in a public school that is willing to accept their applications after the deadline is if their 'home' district and the State Department of Public Instruction block them.

Last month it was discovered that school district administrators in Manitowoc are currently vetoing applications for residents to open enroll in public online charter schools, holding children in their community hostage and milking them for the state aid that accompanies their forced enrollment. This move violates the intent of state law and forces parents to appeal to bureaucrats in Madison to determine if children who live in Manitowoc can go to the public school of their parents' choice.

“We’re looking for champions in the state legislature who will be willing to take up our cause, trust parents and eliminate the callous bureaucrats’ veto,” said Berg. “Wednesday is more than a show of force, however; we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting to work, sharing our message that when lawmakers trust parents, everybody wins.”

Created and led by parent volunteers, the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families was formed in 2005 to protect our educational choices and make sure parents’ and families’ voices are heard in the Capitol and around the state. Together with our fellow parents, families, teachers, and friends, we will educate policy makers and others on why we chose a virtual school for our children; how these schools work; the close, working relationship we have with our teachers and administrators; and much, much more.

 

 

Manitowoc Public School District Doesn't Trust Parents

Arrogantly Blocks Students' Access to Public Schools of Their Parents' Choice

[Fredonia....] he Manitowoc Public School District is stopping area families from enrolling in online public charter schools. It is an action that has drawn the ire of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, which s vowing to fight to change the state law that gives all school districts the power to veto the wishes of public school parents.

"This is an outrageous abuse of power that shows a callous and malicious distrust of parent," said Peder Berg, president of the Coalition. "Children are not vessels for state aid and school districts should not be standing in the way of parents exercising the educational choice guaranteed them by Wisconsin state law."

Online, or virtual schools, are fully-accredited, locally-chartered public schools that have educated tens of thousands of students in Wisconsin. They employ licensed teachers who educate using cutting-edge curriculum and internet access. Students in these schools take the same state-mandated standardized tests as their peers in traditional public schools. Virtual school graduates from Wisconsin have gone on to become nurses, engineers, lawyers, members of the military, and more. Yet many in the education establishment cling to the bigotry that parents who exercise the option to send their children to these schools have somehow been duped.

"Online public charter schools have been a proven, vital and fundamental part of the Wisconsin educational landscape for more than a decade and a half," said Berg.  "The administrators in Manitowoc should be ashamed of themselves for arrogantly thinking that they, not parents, know what is in the best interest of these kids."

Under Wisconsin State Law, open enrollment is basically year round. The wide open enrollment window closed on April 28th, but the only way a student cannot enroll in a public school that is willing to accept their applications after the deadline is if their 'home' district and the State Department of Public Instruction block them.

School district administrators in Manitowoc are currently vetoing applications for residents to open enroll in public online charter schools, holding children in their community hostage and milking them for the state aid that accompanies their forced enrollment. It is now up to bureaucrats in Madison to determine if children who live in Manitowoc can go to the public school of their parents' choice.

"First, we hope DPI Superintendent Evers sees the wisdom in quickly overturning this foolish and cruel decisio by the Manitowoc Public School District administrator," said Berg. "Moving forward, we're looking for champions who will work to change state law to remove this veto authority from the hands of unelected bureaucrats who think they know better than Wisconsin's parents."

The Coalition will be holding a Back-to-School Rally and State Capitol Field Trip in Madison on September 13th. Berg and others will meet with legislators to advocate for online public charter schools and for repeal of the open enrollment veto provision.

 

Chicago School Proves the Effectiveness of Blended Learning in an Urban Environment

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, K12 Inc. released a whitepaperon the effectiveness of blended learning in urban communities. Featuring data and analysis from the Chicago Virtual Charter School(CVCS), Chicago’s first ever online charter school, the paper provides compelling evidence that students in urban communities can achieve academic success with effective online and blended learning programs.

Keep reading here.

When School Doesn’t Offer Physics, Rural Students Head Online

In Jefferson County in eastern Missouri, the high school, middle school and elementary school that make up the Grandview R-II School District all occupy the same campus.

“Which is out in the middle of nowhere,” says Superintendent Matt Zoph. “Literally in the woods, in a place where you can't buy a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas.”

Zoph started as a social studies teacher at the high school before becoming a principal and then superintendent. Today, he oversees about 750 students and 65 teachers.

Continue reading here.

Out of the comfort zone

In my experience as a teacher in a virtual environment, online students have some distinct advantages over students in traditional “brick-and-mortar” schools. In addition to a myriad of services, virtual schools let teachers monitor their students’ class work and assignment completion in a closer, more comprehensive way. They can better help students keep up or catch up with their schoolwork. For students who have experienced bullying, a virtual school is an emotionally safer environment. The wall of privacy works to level the social environment and helps students enjoy more equity and safety. 

More here.

Wisconsin: Charter, virtual schools could expand statewide under Senate GOP budget

The number of independent charter and private virtual schools in Wisconsin could expand under the new state budget proposal put forward by Senate Republicans this week.

The proposed spending plan authorizes a state charter school office to create charter schools statewide without the approval of local school boards. Currently the office is limited to creating the schools in Madison and Milwaukee.

Read more here.

‘Lost in the Cracks’: Alabama District Brings Personalized Learning to Incarcerated Youth

The American prison system has been criticized for being a place of punishment instead of rehabilitation. In states such as Alabama, where youth as young as 14 can be tried as adults, going into the system can mean a lifetime of condemnation. However, one school district hopes a personalized virtual school program will offer incarcerated learners a second chance.

Read more when you click here.