K-12 education is clearly confronting unprecedented challenges. We know we are trying to prepare students for jobs that do not yet exist. We know that with every four students who opt for homeschooling, the equivalent of a teacher’s salary is lost. We know that schools are not yet producing graduates with the skill sets valued most by 21st century employers nor are they serving as incubators of talent, allowing students to explore their own gifts and interests within the context of the school day. But how do schools respond to the need for personalized, mobilized learning in the digital age while preserving the best of what has defined them as a backbone of their communities for decades?
We believe the solution is for schools to create digital versions of themselves -- online learning programs that provide maximum flexibility within highly supported learning models that continue to reflect the integrity, commitment, and values of the communities they serve. Within these scenarios, schools can widen their services to those who prefer home learning as well as those who complete at least some of their courses in the brick-and-mortar setting. Schools may opt to plug into Village Virtual's complete solution to accomplish the same goals. But districts who are ready to launch their own virtual school programs will find this service an invaluable resource to avoid wasting time and money.
Knowing that districts and individual schools have widely varying levels of online learning expertise and access to online learning technologies, Village Virtual has developed a flexible DigitalYOU model that allows schools to develop or expand from any starting point.
Benjamin Franklin famously once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is what comes to mind when school leaders say they are using different learning management systems for different schools, have no integrated student information systems that specifically support online learners, or who create online learning “courses” with no rubric for judging quality or evaluating the user experience. Just investing in hardware and software does not solve a problem. Just making teacher-generated materials available online does not constitute an online learning experience.
Districts maximize their investments in technology when they start with a clear vision of what is needed and what is possible, develop measurable goals for program growth year over year, and collaborate across departments and schools to share funding and expertise. Consulting customizations include pre-mortum/readiness assessments, assistance with strategic planning, and overview & vetting of the building blocks of online learning programs.
Our best advice for launching virtual school initiatives? Start small, learn from your successes and failures, scale up year over year. For some schools, the best way to accomplish this measured growth is the “Start-Together” model, plugging into Village Virtual’s already successful methods and technologies and adapting the program components to individual needs and program goals. This model requires little to no up-front investment in software but allows for a very great deal of customization and supported growth during those first critical years.
Village Virtual can also help districts navigate a “Start-From-Scratch” model, with expertise across many learning management systems and a deep understanding of the user experience from student, parent, teacher, and admin points of view.
Understanding the online user experience (UI) is fundamental to crafting excellent content for online courses. Village Virtual curriculum experts can work with your subject matter experts (SMEs) to build direct instruction, assignments and assessments that excite and engage learners in a rich experience with text, images, discussions, and themes. We also build training for teachers and support staff that can be delivered via your LMS for the most flexible just-in-time development and support.
Call or text us for an opportunity to pilot our new Career Exploration course for middle school.
Workshops & Institutes
While we hope you will join us at many of the conferences where we exhibit and present, Village Virtual also hosts quarterly workshops and institutes for intensive, small-group learning experiences for school leaders interested in starting or expanding virtual school initiatives. Seating is limited and group discounts are available.
Next event: Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Starting a Virtual School: Why, What, & How
In this first of quarterly institutes offered by Village Virtual, Debi Crabtree, edupreneur and twelve-year veteran of online learning, will share insights, tools & strategies for launching successful and sustainable district-led online learning programs.
Visit our Events page to register.