Could virtual education courses help with TAG and AP?

I believe that virtual education initiatives could help with some of the concerns raised by parents and community members regarding Advanced Placement courses. Please check out this website and let me know what you think.

In late May, I blogged these comments on schoolinfosystem.
I wrote:
“Did anyone see the piece written by WEAC President Stan Johnson in Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal? My thought is, “Why doesn’t the Madison Schools have their own virtual program?” I believe using technology is very important and should be used extensively as possible. Currently the district is using programs for increase reading support (READ 180) and for alternative schools. A virtual school could be developed for many students that are being home schooled now. Madison teachers could administer the curriculum and provide accountability. Every child has their own learning style and every parent knows what is best for their children. – The last statement is the challenge of being on the school board.”
Tim Schell, Assistant Director of Instruction at Waunakee Community School District, replied me.
Tim wrote:
“There are some very promising virtual education initiatives already underway at MMSD. Here at Waunakee, we have had the opportunity to partner in the Dane Districts Online consortium headed up by Madison through the office of Joan Peebles, your Coordinator of Technology and Learning. Your staff is also participating in a WiscNet working group that I chair, examining the possibility of WiscNet hosting a network-wide Course Management System that member institutions could purchase into on a cost-recovery basis. Joan is chairing another working group on course content and online course brokerage issues. It is the hope of our working groups that economies of scale can be achieved through cooperative activity instead of each district working in isolation. I believe that Joan may be named to DPI’s advisory group on virtual education. The Madison district is viewed as a leader in the area of virtual education and Technology and Learning’s existing initiatives can only benefit from active support by you and the Board of Education generally.”
I’ve had a few conversations with Joan and this sounds exciting!!! I think its time to get this initiative “out of the dark” and “out to the light.” Okay — Here’s the website again. Check it out. Let me know what you think. Is this worth pursuing to help with TAG programming and AP courses? I know this won’t be the total answer to some of your concerns but it would be more than a start. Please respond to the comments. I’m listening (or in this case, reading). Thanks.

6 thoughts on “Could virtual education courses help with TAG and AP?”

  1. Johnny,
    Virtual education can provide the enrichment TAG kids need, but only if it is integral to their day, that is, not on top of the regular school day. So if a student can take, for example, AP English Lit on-line in lieu of sitting in a homogenized sophomore english class, it might be a viable option. But if it’s something added on after an 8-hour school day, it’s punishment, not enrichment.

  2. Johnnie, thank you for asking this question. If I understood some of the comments on Sunday correctly, there are some good virtual programs out there BUT the district will not give credit for courses taken through those programs. (I hope that others will weigh in if they know whether this is accurate.)
    If there are good virtual programs but district policy makes it difficult for students to participate for credit, would you, Johnnie, be willing to help find ways to change the policies?
    Again, thanks for posting, reading, and listening.

  3. Johnny,
    Your interest in virtual education is fantastic!
    I knew nothing about Digital District On-line (DDO), and I have never heard a teacher, parent, or administrator mention a thing about it.
    From looking at the DDO Web site, I couldn’t quite tell whether students can be enrolled and taking courses, or whether the program is still under development.
    If students can enroll, can MMSD students enroll and receive credit?
    Thanks for bringing the DDO to everyone’s attention.

  4. Johnny,
    I do not have experience with TAG so I will pass along this article to parents I know and encourage their input to you directly.
    For me, as a parent and Madison citizen taxpayer…my biggest concerns in reading the several articles posted is twofold:
    #1. Families leaving the district….
    #2. The vast differences in curriculum offered in our middle and high schools

  5. Digital Districts Online is fully operational and students from multiple districts have been able to enroll in courses for some years now. I am not sure what the specific procedures are in MMSD, but it is certainly an available option right now.
    DDO is a great resource that continues to expand in number of courses and types of other educational resources (e.g. learning objects repository) being offered, so in that sense it is in a state of continual development.
    It should be acknowledged that while multiple districts make use of DDO, it started out as an MMSD initiative funded entirely through federal EdTech grant dollars at its inception.

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