Anywhere / Anytime Learning: Virtual Learning

(The following are notes from an NCSL session about ANYWHERE / ANYTIME LEARNING: VIRTUAL LEARNING. These are my notes, as presented in the session, without my bias or input unless noted. I may or may not agree with what is said, but wanted you to know what lawmakers are discussing as they deal with Anywhere / Anytime Learning: Virtual Learning).

Moderator: Senator Delores G. Kelley, Maryland

“Virtual schools”

“Digital record” of the classroom experience

Florida Virtual School (FVS); free to ALL students (public, private, home school)


Douglas Levin, Executive Director,  State Educational Technology Directors Association, Maryland


  • Technology as a tool of learning
  • Founded in 2001
  • Members are state departments of education
  • Where does technology fit into education?
  • Growing consensus on how to move forward and what opportunities look like
  • Has to be a broad rethinking of the role in education, think holistically
  • We think about education in silos (programming, funding, textbook, assessment, testing, data and transparency)

From Textbooks to Digital and Open Content

  • Fall short of our goals for instruction al resources; technology can do better
  • Half of states have changes textbook laws/funding to become more digital friendly
  • Not just eTextbooks, but “smart content”, interactive, modular, user-generated
  • Not just making the textbook into a.PDF and downloading it; much greater than that
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) keeps it inexpensive


  • From #2 pencil fill-in-the-bubble testing to online testing
  • As of June 2011, 33 states already testing online
  • Test results back almost immediately
  • Many more question options than a simple multiple choice testing
  • We need better test with better measurements of skills
  • Can address cheating concerns we have seen lately (students and/or adults)

Broadband in Education

  • Access required is a must for school students and educators
  • Remains in too many places an urgent need for infrastructure

Six promising state strategies

  • Develop a task force and /or state technology plan
  • Foster an ongoing public-private dialogue an cooperation
  • Assess student and educator
  • Revisit major educational policy building blocks (textbooks, assessment)
  • Provide flexibilities
  • Leverage economies of scale


Julie Young, Florida Virtual School

“Expanding Online Learning Options and Ensuring Accountability”

Florida Virtual School Snapshot:

  • Founded in 1997 as national first online high school
  • K-12
  • Global school is tuition based
  • Free to ALL Florida students
  • Only statewide school in Florida
  • Some part-time options as well
  • Teaching classes in all 50 states
  • Teaching classes in all 67 Florida districts
  • Have presence in 65 countries
  • Growth is from 77 kids in 1997 to  314,593 students in 2012
  • Successful semester completions 1,291,849
  • 30,000 full-time students (the rest are part time who blend their virtual classes with their brick and mortar classes)
  • Designed to enroll 365 days a year
  • Students move at their own pace for their learning
  • Teachers personalize lessons for their students
  • Teachers do interact with their students
  • FVS has 18 clubs and there are leadership opportunities within these clubs
  • FVS levels the playing fields regardless of their zip code
  • FVS offer honors courses, elective courses
  • Teachers are certified

Vision: to transform education worldwide – one student at a time

How FVS works:

  • Open 365 days a year
  • Teachers are always available, “on call”
  • Students can call or text their teacher at any time
  • Teachers operate 12 months a year on a year-long contract
  • Teachers all work from their home

Ensuring accountability

  • How do we ensure accountability?
  • How do you know teachers are teaching?
  • Look at the data
  • FVS has an academic integrity department
  • Discussion based assessment
  • Personalized verbal exam based on the work student has done
  • Proctored exam at any time (in person testing)

** NCAA holds them up as a model **

Quality assurance instructors

  • Their job is to go though virtual classrooms and review dozens of metrics to ensure instructors are doing their job well
  • Design school around the students, not the adults



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