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Utah Online Ed Bill Advances and More

As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah state senate on Wednesday approved a measure that would allow online courses from both public and private providers to be approved by the state board of education and allow funding to follow an online student regardless of whether he or she enrolled in public or private online courses.

The measure was rejected on an earlier vote Tuesday but now advances to the state's house of representatives, and has been backed by national online education advocates like Michael Horn, whose book Disrupting Class is seen as one of the field's seminal works. Horn and others argue that a model where funding can follow the student—similar to what exists in Florida—is the easiest, if not the only way, to scale up online education to meet demand in a time of tightening budgets.

Opponents in Utah have concerns that passage of a bill could send state dollars outside of state lines and further weaken Utah's economy, and potentially discourage Utah schools from encouraging students to choose online courses because it could mean a loss of funding, according to the Tribune.

• The Harvard Education Letter's March/April edition takes an in-depth look at a handful of newly developing "hybrid schools" across the country.

While the general belief among many educators is that all schools will eventually include some sort of blended learning environment where elements of face-to-face and Web instruction are melded, the hybrid schools go well beyond that premise to an arrangement where students and instructors meet in person for only a small portion of the school week, and the rest of the classwork is done virtually.

• And just a reminder that we're less than a week away from the announcement of the second-annual National Online K-12 Teacher of the Year award, a competition run cooperatively by the Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.

The winner, who will be announced next Thursday at the SREB's Education Technology Cooperative's Teaching and Learning Symposium, will get to spend a day with federal ed-tech chief Karen Cator and get an all-expense-paid trip to iNACOL's Virtual School Symposium in November. And of course, you'll be able to read all about it here.

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