Monday, December 20, 2010

Access and Equity in Online Classes and Virtual Schools

[Last post of 2010]
While this is a K12 report about online learning, as more traditional students come from environments where online learning is pervasive, it is important for colleges to keep pace.

Even in the Washington DC area, the amount of technology used in K12 schools varies widely.  Smartboards and smart classrooms are widely used (<-- that link is from 2007!)  in Montgomery County and to a lesser extent in PG County.  Fairfax always leads the way, and   DC has been playing catch up and the large number of independent charter schools have varying levels of technology use.

Here's a summary from the report:

Equity and access are important issues in education. The virtual school community has an obligation
to ensure that their programs are accessible and the educational opportunities are equitable. Virtual
education programs need to pay attention to these issues to be sure to have the greatest benefit
to the largest number of students. From there begins the same legal obligation that all public
education programs have.

Virtual education programs can become proactive on equity and access issues by:
  • Collecting and analyzing student demographic data, then use that data to make program modifications where needed
  • Developing policies and procedures that require and ensure all courses and educational materials be broadly accessible
  • Developing special needs policies that explain the program responsibilities for service to special needs students
  • Creating and publicizing a non-discrimination policy
  • Appointing, when necessary, Title IX and Section 504 Coordinators
  • By implementing these best practices, virtual education programs can be assured of helping the
    greatest number of students obtain a high quality education. 

Below, respected educator Robert Marzano speaks on the paradigm shift technology will bring to the classroom.

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