School Without Walls #2

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FOLLOWING on from the great feedback in relation to the previous post and #sictassy (check the Tweet-related URLS here), I’d like to start expanding out some of the ideas forming around ‘the school without walls’, leading from the discussions with the DET (Department of Education and Training).

I am in no way suggesting this idea is limited to the DET – but that was the start point conversation and #sictassy. The creation of this ‘school’ I believe can only come about as a result of participatory culture and that has to be the central motivation for those students choosing ‘media based education’.

A Virtual School is not a new idea, or an ideal, but I see the school without walls as a very bright idea – as it is ideal to model best practice, model professional learning, and deliver 21st century pedagogy within existing desires of education.

In the comment stream, there are numerous ideas … and we are still talking about some central issues that surpass foci on ‘technology’ itself. The Twitpoll over the weekend took 43 votes – so the conversation has gone from 8 at a table to the network. 95% thought it was plausible. Not a big number, but it represents something bigger – a movement.

3402869547_5d5993b55fThe Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, this week said  “The government did not want this generation of young people to bear an ongoing burden from the economic crisis”, to me, this burden is not just future taxation – but the nature of employment and preparation for it.

The Minister also talked about “… creative provision of education, they can be back, back learning, back gaining self-esteem and self-respect, and back gaining opportunities that are going to make a difference for the rest of their lives.” and “We don’t want people sitting around doing nothing,” on Fairfax Radio.

If this is goal, and we want students to ‘learn or earn’ – why do we have to have duality – why not find a way to blend both or either – depending on the needs of the learner. Some may financially need to earn, but also want to be learners. Even in this mode, the school without walls makes sense to me. Ideas are in a loop, looking internally for answers – or hoping to co-opt ‘the cloud’ and cherry pick palatable ideas based on the past.

Why not empower and trust in the existing movement of teachers already forming behind this idea? – That’s the message.

The National ICT Symposium was addressing some of this.   I see the project as taking innovation to integration – delivering on existing ‘needs’ by the various bureaucratic statements such as the Federal government’s provision for “recognition and reward for quality teaching” or for beginning teachers to have demonstrated successful teaching experience.“. I want to create leaders, not experienced teachers. I experience traffic in Sydney daily, and don’t see it as valuable to my life – quite the opposite.

To keep the conversation flowing – I’ve put together an idea for a charter statement – which you are free to comment, or add to on Etherpad. Please note it only deals with 8 people at once, so be patient if there is a rush. How do you see a mission and vision for this?

I think we are having a great conversation about what are hard questions, please please add your voice – local, international, DET, CEO, AIS, TAFE – participation is the currency of communication.


10 thoughts on “School Without Walls #2

  1. Dean, have a look at

    Enrollment in K-12 online courses in the United states has exploded in the past year, increasing by as much as 50 percent in some states, according to a new report from the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL).

    Called “Keeping Pace With K-12 Online Learning: A Review of State-Level Policy and Practice,” the massive, 131-page document examines state-led online learning programs underway in 24 states and considers the policies, funding models, training programs, and other factors necessary to establish effective online learning environments.

    According to the report, 38 states now feature either state-led online learning programs, policies regulating online education, or both. At the Florida Virtual School, the nation’s first statewide public online high school, enrollment reportedly spiked by more than 50 percent compared with the last school year.

    • can you comment as to why you think that is? – I read with interest in NSW Staff News today that there is, aparently, a range of ‘teachers’ and ‘resources’ that will be rolled out with laptops. Not detail of who, when how though. Thanks for the link.

  2. Emerging Minds of Maryland is an advocacy group in Maryland USA working towards parent choices in education. We are currently working towards having a law passed for virtual schooling as a k-12 public school option. We have seen the benefits first hand of this program !! For the parents who want or have to take an active role in their childrens education this should be an option!

    • Amazing, parent choices, now I’m going to have to do more research on that. I moved my child from one public school to another this year. The new school is open to a negotiated curriculum based on his needs and interests. Small ideological change that has made a massive impact on the family in many ways. Good luck with it, and please share the URL of your page!

      • Just maybe share some stories – what are the motivators to do it, what is the student experience!

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  4. We have found that many families benefit from Virtual Schooling. My son is in Kindergarten but is in first grade math. Virtual School is able to move ahead the children who are advanced without interupting their classes. The childrens programs are tailored to fit them individually. Another student I know finished 2nd grade in Feb. and was moved on to 3rd with no problems. This program benefits students who are have special learning needs. On student has ADD. This child could not concentrate in the normal classroom. Now she is excelling in this program. This program helps so many.

    • I can relate to that! – thanks for sharing it. Do you think it has any impact on their social interaction? – How to parents connect with teachers?

  5. Parent actually have more contact with the teachers. We use Connections Academy and we call, email, and visit the teachers on field trips. We also have current up to date grades that are immediate for most assignments so we can see right away where are children are having problems. As for social interaction. There are online afterschool clubs ie. poetry, chess, debate clubs and so on for the children to get in through message boards and chatrooms. Also, we as parent sign our children up for afterschool activities such as Softball, Martial Arts and so on so that our children will be interactive. But the main idea is school is for learning not socializing. They can socialize at appropriate times. The children also have live lesson in which they talk online with their teachers and students in real time as well.

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