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eLearning Update: Tips from Fla. Virtual School

Over at the Huffington Post blog, Florida Virtual School President and Chief Executive Officer Julie Young and Jeff Livingston, the senior vice president of Applied Career and College Readiness Learning Solutions Center, offer up the key components of a successful virtual learning program.

1. The self-selected student. Students should know what they are getting into when they decide to take an online class including an increase in student independence as well as virtual collaboration, self-motivation, and time management skills. In an ideal world, the article says, no student should be forced to take an online class--something that a handful of states now require students to undergo to meet graduation requirements.

2. Harnessing the power of data. Online learning provides an opportunity to gather more, and much richer, data on each student, the article says. That increase in data should ideally alert instructors to potentially problematic areas for students before the problem progresses too far.

3. Adaptive learning as a critical tool. Teachers in virtual environments can use adaptive learning tools in order to provide personalized instruction for each student, meeting them where they are and helping them patch up holes in their knowledge base, the article says. Students can keep up with where they are by receiving immediate and robust feedback from their teachers and the digital tools they use.

4. Students empowered by choice. Students should be able to direct which kinds of assignments they would like to use in an online learning environment, says the article.

5. Hiring is critical. Just as in a brick-and-mortar school, the instructors in an online environment play a significant role in the academic success of their students. Virtual instructors require just as much, if not more, training before they can get started teaching in an online environment, which may actually be more rigorous than a brick-and-mortar classroom, the article says. "FLVS requires 75-100 professional learning hours per year, and with no tenure program, instructors continually strive for success using data, adaptive learning tools, and the adage that there is 'no reason for a student to fail' in the learning environment FLVS provides," says the article.

Read the full article here.

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