Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Further thoughts from Northern Beaches

So, there are a couple of other notes I have from the visit to Northern Beaches ...

Over lunch I talked at some length with their Director of their online school. Yes - they have an online school currently delivering online HSC courses to in excess of 200 students. Some of their own students are enrolled in these courses, with the other students coming from around NSW and out of state too. Courses at Y11 and 12 range from Ancient History through Business Studies through Physics, Chemistry and a pile of others. All are charged at a flat rate (nominally $1050). All are delivered via Moodle and their site is managed and hosted by Catalyst (Australia).

So - students physically "in zone" and enrolled at the school are able to opt into the online course. This means they don't need to attend school. Some don't. Some do.

According to their Director, the top grades in subjects in HSC tend to be achieved by the students enrolled online. In addition, students enrolled online achieve the greatest proportion of their top grades too.

Now there is an interesting aside to this: ...
... I've just read a research report comparing two modes of preparation for online learning (JDTLE, Vol 28, No. 4, Summer 2012 p146) that in effect says that teachers who have done a university paper on delivering online learning are no more effective than teachers who have done a one day course on delivering online learning. [That's no surprise to me.]

So, clearly there are no barriers to take up by teachers to teaching online if they want to. So where does this lead us then? ...

I've written about the long tail of education before. To me it is clear that at least Y 11 - 13 students will have the opportunity to study online in this part of the world sometime soon. Most secondary schools have some form of LMS and some degree of buy in from staff/students/parents. Just seems a natural progression. Maybe we should be leading this ... before somebody else does and we have to play catch up.

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