Building a Hybrid Virtual School

Qbqonw By Mark

A colleague of mine posed an interesting proposition lately. Like many school districts, mine is apparently toying with the idea of a hybrid virtual/brick-and-mortar kind of school-within-a-school. The idea is that the curriculum would be administered face-to-face when necessary and via web interface when necessary, so this colleague of mine was casting out a few lines to see if any of us would bite.

I've voiced interest in participating, but have concerns and questions. 

A few years ago, I was part of starting a small learning community "school-within-a-school" of sorts in my high school, and it is still operating, but that endeavor was small by comparison with what my colleague has in mind. I am wondering what models of this kind of hybrid exist, what are the benefits or shortcomings, and what the best course would be.

I'm definitely in the learning stages here. Sure, I can Google it or read some journal articles, but that only gives part of the story.

So, SFS readers and contributors: what do you know, or what advice do you have about building this kind of educational opportunity? If you are a brick-and-mortar teacher, what concerns would you have for a hybrid or virtual school? What hopes would you have?

2 thoughts on “Building a Hybrid Virtual School

  1. Kristin

    Well, there is a model for this, but it’s a charter school program called Rocketship. It’s a hybrid model that uses both computers and teachers – because they can have big “labs” when the kids are on computers, they save on salary. Fewer teachers = bigger salaries, and Rocketship teachers usually earn in the three digits, according to Steve Barr of Green Dot schools, whom I saw speak last Monday.
    Here’s a link to Rocketship http://www.rsed.org/innovate/
    You know Mark, at this point I’m willing to try a whole lot of things I was once completely against. Online education, okay. Math labs on computers, with 60 kids and one teacher, okay.
    I just feel like it’s time we get creative and are willing to stop trying the same old thing.
    My concerns for a virtual school are quality, same as my concerns for the brick and mortar schools. I’ve taken some horrible online or extension-learning courses.
    What I would be excited about is how totally personalized it could be, and how instant the feedback. I love taking those online geography quizzes, I love doing the math quizzes, I even took an online quiz to see where I scored on the autism spectrum (12). So, I think for a lot of our kids, working on their skills with a computer would really work.

  2. Mark

    Despite what it might seem from my other posts, I am also quite open to innovative approaches. I also know that PR within a public school, and garnering teacher support, is a critical step for implementing any new program within a public school model…and you’d probably agree that reaching all students doesn’t mean just constructing opportunities outside of the present model, but reworking the systems and options within the present model.
    When charters (or private schools, for that matter) do something well, it is worthwhile for non-charter public schools to examine their methods and consider how they might fit (not think of all the reasons they cannot).
    Thanks for the link!

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