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Posts Tagged ‘online school’

Seven Governing Goals for Online Learning

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Online education powerfully combines aspects of distance learning and open learning with the expertise of an experienced online instructor who guides the learning process.  Distance learning is generally defined as any mode of learning where the study takes place wholly at home but the materials are still “physical,” like computer programs, books, cassettes, CD-ROMs, and videos. Open learning is where study takes place off site the majority of the time, but requires some infrequent attendance at a center. It includes mediums that are both physical and electronic. Online learning is where the study takes place over the Internet, either live or via email lessons sent to the student’s inbox.

The online instructional program should include seven governing goals:

1. An online community is established and interaction is monitored by an educator.  An online community of learners increases the likelihood of success for students.   Without a social or emotional connection, technology further distances the learner from the desire to connect with the content (Palloff & Pratt, 1999).

2.   Online instruction should follow a set format and needs to be consistent according to preset specifications across all programs, while adhering to core standards for learning.

3. Assessment that includes immediate feedback should be customized to align with student progress through smart software which monitors results of student-self assessment, parent assessment and  program/educator assessment.

4. Parents need to be part of the teaching-learning process.  Online learning lends itself well to parental involvement.  The flexible nature of online learning is ideal for parents who don’t have time to meet with educators.  Parental resources should be available for parents to review 24/7.   Programs need to be simple and easy to use so that parents have equal access to the important information available to them.  Children may be able to help their parents, but this should not be an expected part of the program.

5. Age appropriate Internet links need to be a part of each online lesson module, with smart programs checking for dead links. The links should support the concept or skill being taught in the instructional program.

6. Instructional material should be available for a broad cross-section of students from grades K-12.

7. While completing instructional material, students will learn that the Internet is a tool that can enhance learning, independence, self direction and can provide for the efficient use and validation of reliable information.

Misconceptions About Online Learning

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Current data is misleading, referring to any and all instruction that occurs via the Internet as “online learning” when much of the instruction is nothing more than scanned copies of materials used in the traditional classroom.  The term “online learning” has been muddied as those claiming to use the medium either do not understand the qualitative difference between traditional classroom instruction and online instruction, or they claim use of technology in order to fulfill administrative requirements for such, without providing authentic online instruction. Lack of  training for innovative, thoughtful, and creative use of technology often stymies effective teaching online.

Online education powerfully combines aspects of distance learning and open learning with the expertise of an experienced online instructor who guides the learning process. Distance learning is generally defined as any mode of learning where the study takes place wholly at home but the materials are still “physical,”  like books, cassettes, CD-ROMs, and videos.  Open learning takes place off site the majority of the time, but requires some infrequent attendance at a center. It includes mediums that are both physical and electronic. Online learning study takes place over the Internet, either live or via email lessons sent to the student’s inbox.

Current research would have us believe that the need for online learning is already being met, that K – 12 online learning is the direction education is already headed. Research states that seven hundred thousand students across the U. S. in grades K – 12 were enrolled in online learning in 2006, and 2007-2008 enrollment estimates were at 1,030,000 (Picciano & Seaman, 2009) and that K – 12 Internet-based education is growing by 30 to 47 percent each year (Newman, Stein, & Trask, 2003; Picciano & Seaman, 2007). “Forty four states have significant supplemental online learning programs, or significant full-time programs” (Watson, et al., 2008, p. 8). Other states are in the planning stages for online learning programs. Seventy one percent of school districts that currently offer distance education programs are planning to grow their programs in the next year (NCES, 2008).

While these statistics may be accurate, what is lacking is a clear definition of what online learning looks like in practice.  Defining online courses, as those that rely on eighty percent of instruction online is merely the first step in defining online education. We propose a definition that clarifies some of the misconceptions teachers, administrators, and students may have about online education. These include concerns that online instruction leaves the  teacher out of the educational process, that average or below-average performing students in traditional classrooms fare even more poorly in online courses, and that online courses are inferior to traditional classroom settings (Picciano & Seaman, 2009).

The model online instructional program provides the following:

  • The program meets National Goals for Learning in the areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Science and is designed for students from kindergarten through grade twelve.
  • Each lesson module has several parts including an introduction, vocabulary, a lesson problem, statement of curricular standards, resources, study guide, activities, extended learning, and quizzes and exams.
  • An adequate number of lesson modules are provided to fulfill the instructional requirement for students.  These modules include a wide range of topics, informational web sites and interesting activities that help to create a unique learning experience.
  • The program provides immediate feedback to students and parents. Multiple choice questions follow each study guide to check for comprehension and understanding of concepts learned.
  • The program includes student and teacher/parent resources, discussion area, homework help, and unique email features.
  • Lesson modules are written by educators in multiple subject areas. Students can work at their own ability level and at their own pace. The lesson modules emphasize achievement in basic skills for learning.
  • The most important key to online learning is student success and students are more likely to succeed if the information is interesting and relevant for them.
  • The original content of the lesson modules apply to real life situations that students can relate to, such as, creating a budget or reviewing a movie.
  • The program is fully accessible through the Internet. There should be no plug-ins, or additional software with the program.
  • The depth of content, use of graphics, activities and inclusion of web sites make the typical online instructional program unique when compared to other educational programs and sites on the Internet.

Six Transition Tips For Students Moving to Online Learning

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Online learning represents a new kind of challenge for students.  Expectations vary widely and the online program response may not always meet expectations.  There are some things all students should expect, however.  Students should be expected to be challenged academically.  They should expect not to understand everything they experience in their online educational program.  They can expect to not always see the relevance of what they are asked to do.  But, they should expect that resources will be available to help them.  lIn order to help your child embrace the online learning program they have chosen:

  • Empower your student to take the initiative and solve his or her own learning problems within reason.
  • Familiarize yourself with the online instructional program and resources in the event you will need to assist your student in them.
  • Advise the instructional program if you or your student experiences difficulty
  • Remember that students often change their minds and this is okay
  • Avoid too much advice, too much supervision, solving their problems, and second-guessing your student
  • Stay positive

Eight Standards Guide Internet-Based Learning

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Online Instructional Model

An effective online instructional program integrates innovative, research-based components.  eTutor began conducting research in the fall of 1997 and determined that online instructional programs should be guided by the following standards:

  1. Instructional lesson format needs to be consistent
  2. Immediate feedback is necessary for both student and parent
  3. Instruction should be customized to student progress
  4. Parents need to be part of the teaching-learning program
  5. Instruction should be linked to National and State Learning Goals
  6. Appropriate Internet links need to be an integral part of each instructional lesson
  7. Instructional lessons should be available to students from grades K – 12
  8. Students should learn the value and appropriate use of the Internet while completing instructional lessons

Beginning in 1998, eTutor established a new, higher standard for delivering fully integrated, superior learning over the Internet for grades K through 12.  eTutor accomplishes this by incorporating the best of current instructional practice with the power of the latest internet technology.

The difference between regular school and online learning…….

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Online education represents a new kind of challenge for students. Each student’s and parent’s expectations differ widely, and the e-Tutor response may not always meet expectations. There are some things all students can expect. Students can expect to be challenged academically. They can expect to not understand everything they experience in an online educational program. They can expect to not always see the relevance of what they are asked to do. But, they also can expect that resources will be available to help them.

It may seem obvious, but it sometimes comes as a shock to students that online learning will require increased academic skill. Consider the following:

Traditional School

e-Tutor Online Education

  • Attendance is required
  • Attendance is not enforced
  • Teachers often test over clearly reviewed materials
  • Three forms of testing take place in each e-Tutor Lesson Module: Self Check (Problem Statement), Parent Review (Activities and Extended Learning), Quizzes and Exams are automatically scored by e-Tutor.  e-Tutor emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Students study an average of one hour per week per class
  • Students are expected to complete no more than four lesson modules each day and to spend one to one and a half hours on each lesson module.
  • Weeks are full of structured activities
  • Possibilities for family, individual and outside involvement are endless and sometimes overwhelming
  • Teachers often remind students of deadlines, overdue work, and their current grades
  • e-Tutor expects students, with parents assisting, to schedule their own learning program and to keep track of the number of lesson modules completed, as well as scores for quizzes and exams.
  • Class structure is discussed in detail at the beginning of the year
  • Recommended learning programs are spelled out in the original email that goes to parents.
  • Teachers can usually be found in their classrooms throughout the day
  • e-Tutor can be contacted anytime 24/7 via email.  Response is within twenty-four hours.

Becoming an Online Tutor

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Make sure that the program you are considering offers the best in educational content, as well as services for educators and parents.  Another component that will provide the most innovative program is one that can be used anywhere there is Internet access without reliance on texts, workbooks or other ancillary materials or equipment.

Before you continue, can you answer the following questions?

  • Are you comfortable using the computer and internet applications?
  • Have you used internet-based templates in the past?
  • Are you creative and able to develop instructional content without aid?

To be considered for a tutoring position with most accredited and reliable online learning programs, applicants must provide the following:


The best accredited programs require tutors to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Teacher certification is preferred, but not required.


Adequate experience in working with students of all ages in various capacities.

Writing Skills

Most online learning programs use templates to create assignments and or lessons for their students.  Therefore, applicants may be judged on their writing skills. You can practice using a template for writing lessons at Lesson Pro.  You may be asked to submit writing samples for different levels of students.

When using a template, make sure that all sections are complete.  You might find it helpful to write your sample in a text file or another document and then cut and past sections into the template.  Your writing sample may not guarantee a tutoring position.  Other qualifications are taken into consideration.  You can list your qualifications in a cover letter and most important in your resume.

Are There Different Kinds of Smart?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Not long ago, most viewed intelligence as a single quantity …an immutable, monolithic construct known as “intelligence quotient” or “IQ.”

Today we’re pretty sure that is wrong.  Thanks to Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking work and to corresponding developments in neurobiology, most experts now suspect there are at least several different kinds of intelligence.  Rather than a single quantity, intelligence is now largely seen as a grouping of capacities, each defined by Gardner as “an ability to solve a problem or fashion a product that is valued in one or more cultural settings.”

How many are there?  At last count, Gardner list 8 1/2 … Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist and half for Comedic Intelligence.

How many are likely to emerge?  Nobody really knows, but ultimately the question of precise numbers misses the point:  a more important question may be, “How do we use our many skills most effectively?”  And the answer seems to be.  “Use them often.”

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Considering the Best Measure for Quality Education

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach they way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

Six Ways to Increase Oral Reading Skills

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

When reading orally, children must not only decode the printed words on a page, they must also communicate the author’s meaning to others by varying the voice volume, pitch, phrasing, pauses, tone and reading rate.  When reading orally, children must understand what they are reading in order to communicate the meaning successfully.  As a result, the regular practice of oral reading boosts children’s comprehension, producing gains that will transfer to their silent, independent reading of fiction or nonfiction.

Activities to increase oral reading skills:

  1. Reading Specific Sentences Aloud. Have your child read a passage silently.  Ask questions and direct him/her to locate and read the sentence that has the answer.
  2. Multimedia Models. Play records and tape recordings of poetry, prose and plays.  Encourage discussion of  the way the speakers use their voices to convey meaning.
  3. Reading Duets. Have your child choose a reading partner.  Alternate the partners as readers and listeners.
  4. One Minute or Less Oral Reading Fun. Provide daily opportunities for your child to read orally, such as reading notices, signs or advertisements.
  5. Choral Reading and Play-Reading. Select poems, dramatic scenes from stories or story description to rehearse for choral readings.  Model the chosen selection.  Have your child choose a part to practice reading orally.
  6. Recording Oral Reading. Tape or video record plays, choral readings or radio dramas that your child has prepared and practiced.

Gifted and Talented

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Although we place high hopes for a worthwhile future on the gifted and talented youth of today, we often neglect this group.  Many gifted children are left to their own devices in school as well as at home.

Contrary to the popular misconceptions that they will do better without interference and that they will succeed on their own, some gifted children experience academic, social, and personal problems when they do not receive support from society and parents.  Gifted children display their abilities in a variety of ways, each unique to the individual child.  In general, for most children, giftedness is demonstrated by performance of tasks and understanding of concepts usually associated with much older children.  Reading signs, magazines, and books, and performing mathematical computations at ages three to five; speaking complete sentences and using abstract vocabulary at age two and three….all indicate superior intellectual abilities.

Often the gifted child feels isolated from the rest of the world because of the exceptional abilities he or she possesses.  Facing these feelings of difference alone can create emotional problems, disruptive behaviors, or withdrawal from the frustrating situation.  Parents play an important role in the development of exceptional abilities in children, especially in encouraging a favorable attitude toward these tendencies.

Because of their heightened perceptions and sensitivities, many gifted children need an environment that is secure emotionally and stimulating intellectually to allow their abilities to flourish.  Too many adults overlook their needs, however, assuming that these children already have advantages other lack.  Consequently, much is left to parents to provide for the gifted.  Working with the child and with other parents, they can accomplish this awesome, often frustrating, task.