[nfbmi-talk] online education in mi and why it is important

Christine Boone christineboone2 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 27 12:50:56 UTC 2014


Very interesting article.  You are right that the Federation needs to continue to strengthen our partnership with the Department of Education on both the state and local levels.  It is essential that these on-line courses be fully accessible to students who are blind.  The fascinating part of this story to me, is that younger students who take on line classes receive grades between 89 and 94 percent, or B+ to A-, while older students top out at only 77 percent, which is a C- at best.  I would not have expected that the difference would be so extreme between these 2 groups.  The more I experience technology and its impact upon our world, the more I see value in the methods of learning and communication that we used before the electronic information age.  But that is a subject for another day.  

Christine

On Mar 27, 2014, at 7:20 AM, joe harcz Comcast <joeharcz at comcast.net> wrote:

> Fellow Federationists:
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> The article after my signature line might not seem germane at first blush to this list. But, it is. Regardless as to the merits of online education what we need to be concerned with is the accessibility, or rather, full and complete accessibility of these programs to blind students, educators and even blind parents.
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> This is precisely why the TEACH Act is so important and why the recent OCR ruling under the ADA and 504 is so important.
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> I urge all to work to ensure that these systems in Michigan are fully accessible and NFB of Michigan should, in my opinion create a task force on this critical issue.
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> Joe Harcz
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> Online classes surge in popularity among Michigan K-12 students By Lori Higgins Detroit Free Press Education Writer The number of K-12 students taking online
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> courses in Michigan surged 52% in the last three years, according to a report released this week that provides a first-of-its-kind - but limited - look
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> at the effectiveness of online learning in the state. During the 2012-13 school year, 55,271 students took at least one online course, up from 36,348 during
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> the 2010-11 school year. The overall number of courses taken surged from 89,921 to 185,053 during the same time period. The effectiveness data was mixed.
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> Of the students taking a blend of online and traditional classes, the completion/passed rate for the online classes was just 60%, compared to a completion/passed
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> rate of 72% for non-online classes. But the researchers caution that limitations in the data could affect those completion rates. For instance, completion
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> rates for summer school classes were not available when the data was analyzed, said Joseph Freidhoff, executive director of the Michigan Virtual Learning
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> Research Institute, which conducted the research at the request of the Michigan Legislature. The students who took the summer classes in 2013 are listed
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> as incomplete, but many of them may have passed those classes, Freidhoff said. "We know this data isn't perfect," said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and
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> CEO of the Michigan Virtual University, the state-created nonprofit that includes the research institute. "This is a giant first step in trying to wrap
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> our arms around what we know is a growing trend. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a news release that the information in the report will help
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> impact instruction and policy in Michigan. "The findings ... provide an important baseline to evaluate online growth and effectiveness over time," Flanagan
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> said. Fitzpatrick said the report puts Michigan years ahead of other states in evaluating the effectiveness of virtual learning. More work will be needed
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> to ensure that there is uniformity in the way schools are submitting data to the state. The researchers analyzed data from several sources: Students enrolled
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> in courses through Michigan Virtual School , which is part of Michigan Virtual University; students who take all of their coursework online through a cyber
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> school; and students who take online courses via other means, such as courses provided by their districts or another entity. While there's been a growing
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> push for students to take advantage of online learning, the data suggests students perform better when they only take one or two classes online. Of the
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> students who take a mixture of online and non-online courses, the completion/passed rate was higher - 68% - for those taking one or two online classes
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> than for those taking three or four (59%) and those taking five or more (55%) online courses. Some additional findings: ¦Completion/pass rates for students
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> in grades K-5 ranged between 87% and 94%, while the rates for older students in grades 6-12 ranged from 47% to 77%. ¦The overall percentage of students
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> taking online courses still remains relatively small, particularly at the elementary grades. In grades K-7, fewer than 1% of students have taken an online
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> course. The highest percentage was in 12th grade, where 15% of seniors have taken an online course. Fitzpatrick says he's concerned that the data suggests
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> that a large number of the students taking virtual courses are students who are behind academically and need to catch up on credits. He said there needs
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> to be more discussion at the local level on how to ensure online courses are an option for all students. "We have to ask ourselves from a policy perspective
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> - if a student is struggling and they need more help and assistance, is loading them up with five or six online classes going to increase their chances
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> of success? The data suggests no. 
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