I am currently attending the last day of the 3-day Vision 2020 Virtual Learning Grant Leadership Conference (August 11-13, 2009) here in Austin, Texas. It had been a very fruitful conference. I have learned several interesting and informative ideas that I will definitely use when I go back to my district in El Paso, Texas. Aside from knowing and understanding the depth of planning needed and the process involved to become successful, some of the highlights of the conference include, but not limited to:
(a) establishing networks with fellow educators who have experienced Cycle 1 of the Vision 2020 grant and the newbies (such as my district) who are beyond anticipation in grasping the things we need to prepare for;
(b) identifying the details that worked and does not work in a virtual learning environment;
(c) making use of leadership and technology best practices to facilitate the appropriate and effective establishment of a virtual learning environment;
(d) addressing students needs and learning styles in a non-traditional approach;
(e) reviewing the iNACOL Standards and TEKS alignment with the Texas Virtual School Network course catalog;
(f) building my district's vision and goals as part of an opportunity to moving forward with our grant; and,
(g) identifying quality online teaching best practices and understanding the factors involved in making teachers become successful virtual instructors.
There have been several discussions with regard to the role of virtual learning school as the next wave of the future. How ready and prepared are we in opening doors of opportunities for our students to take courses and obtain credit online? Have we effectively and completely identified the students who will be ideal in a virtual situation to become successful in their academic performance? Are today's children truly ready to learn in a virtual earning environment? In the university and collegiate level, students have a good understanding of the level of commitment involved to become successful in this type of learning. Though there has to be continuous reminder from academic counselors and advisers, students in this level has to establish their motivation and discipline. It is quite a challenge to maintain the same level of consistency, especially when there is no presence of parental support.
There are many questions that I would like to ask, but as of now, I do believe that virtual learning will continue to grow. In time, I do hope to see an increase in districts being involved in this type of learning environment.