Training Teachers for a Virtual School System: A Call to Action

Training Teachers for a Virtual School System: A Call to Action

Michael K. Barbour
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4502-8.ch081
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Online learning at the K-12 level is growing exponentially. Students learning in supplemental virtual schools and full-time cyber schools, using a variety of delivery models that include and sometimes combine independent, asynchronous, and synchronous instruction, in almost every state in the US. In some instances the knowledge, skills, and abilities required by teachers in this technology-mediated environment is consistent with what they learned about face-to-face teaching in their teacher education programs, while in many instances, the two are quite different. Presently the lack of empirical research into effective K-12 online teaching limits teacher education programs. However, teacher education programs still need to better prepare pre-service and in-service teachers to design, deliver, and support students engaged virtual schooling.
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The State Of K-12 Online Learning

The use of distance education in the K-12 environment stemming from a need to provide equal educational opportunities to rural areas is common throughout North America (Haughey & Muirhead, 1999). The use of distance education at the K-12 level has been in place since the beginning of the twentieth century, beginning with a correspondence model at the Calvert School of Baltimore in 1906 (Moore & Kearsley, 1996). Over the past 100 years, the model of distance education has evolved from these initial correspondence models to educational radio to instructional television to audiographics (Clark, 2007). In the past two decades, web-based or online delivery has become the dominant form of K-12 distance education delivery, with these online learning programs being organized into formal virtual or cyber schools, at least in North America (Barbour, 2009).

Clark (2000) defined a virtual school as “a state approved and/or regionally accredited school that offers secondary credit courses through distance learning methods that include Internet-based delivery” (p. i). While others distinguished between a virtual school (i.e., an entity where students took all of their courses from) and virtual schooling (where students take one or more courses through an online learning program) (Barker, Wendel and Richmond,1999); Clark (2001) has become the more accepted definition in the literature. In the United States, the first school to begin using K-12 online learning was the private Laurel Springs School in California around 1991. This was followed by the Utah eSchool in 1994-95, along with the Florida Virtual School and Virtual High School Global Consortium in 1996-97. In 2000-01 the for profit company K12, Inc. introduced the first full-time cyber school (Watson et al., 2009).

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