*** NOTICE ***
The ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information & Technology
web site is no longer in operation.
The United States Department of Education continues to offer the
All ERIC Clearinghouses plus AskERIC will be closed permanently as of December 31, 2003.
In January 2004, the Department of Education will implement a reengineering plan for ERIC. The new ERIC mission continues the core function of providing a centralized bibliographic database of journal articles and other published and unpublished education materials. It enhances the database by adding free full text and electronic links to commercial sources and by making it easy to use and up to date.
From January 2004 until the new ERIC model for acquiring education literature is developed later in 2004, no new materials will be received and accepted for the database. However, the ERIC database will continue to grow, as thousands of documents selected by the ERIC clearinghouses throughout 2003 will be added. When the new model is ready later in 2004, the new ERIC contractor will communicate with publishers, education organizations, and other database contributors to add publications and materials released from January 2004 forward.
§ Search the ERIC database.
§ Search the ERIC Calendar of Education-Related Conferences.
§ Link to the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) to purchase ERIC full-text documents.
§ Link to the ERIC Processing and Reference Facility to purchase ERIC tapes and tools.
§ Stay up-to-date about the ERIC transition to a new contractor and model.
These are exciting times for educators. With the benefit of technology, we have greater opportunities than ever to reduce and remove barriers to learning, to meet students' increasing needs and to help them realize their academic potential. As part of its continuing commitment to students, families and the community, the Liverpool Central School District has developed The Virtual School @ Liverpool™ through which students may take required, Advanced Placement, elective and tutorial courses in a web-based, "anytime, anyplace" learning environment.
Beginning in September, 2000, Liverpool school district will offer courses for the New York State Regents' diploma, electives and online tutorials for students in need of support. Elementary grades will be included because of the potential for students who, for example, need assistance preparing for the NYS fourth grade tests. In addition, we offer a virtual library.
Liverpool Central School District envisions teachers instructing students from all over New York State and beyond, via the Internet. A hallmark of Liverpool's courses will be prompt, meaningful interaction between teachers and students. Technologically, key components will be the use of features such as streaming video and audio, whiteboarding, threaded discussions, chat rooms and web-linking to make online learning interesting and engaging for the students. Other components for the research and design of The Virtual School @ Liverpool™ include marketing, funding, teacher recruitment and training, and student recruitment. In addition to traditional "bricks and mortar school" students, other potential beneficiaries of online courses include medically homebound students, home-schooled students, alternative education students, students abroad and others.
For more information, see the website for the award-winning, internationally- recognized Liverpool Central School District and, for information specifically about The Virtual School @ Liverpool™.
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology is keenly interested in innovative educational programs that implement emerging technology. Fall semester 2000, Liverpool Schools (Liverpool, New York) launched its first virtual learning environment, named Virtual School@Liverpool™. We interviewed the founder and developer of the Virtual School, Laura Lavine, to understand how the program was developed and implemented; some issues involved; and how students, teachers, and the community will benefit.
--Sue Wurster, Editor
Questions and Answers
What led to the decision to offer this distance learning program? Was there an unmet need? What was the reason for starting this virtual education opportunity for elementary and secondary school students?
John strives to "level the playing field" for students and strives to close the "digital divide." He saw the potential for a virtual school to provide equal access to a wider range of high-quality courses for some students than they would have had otherwise. His focus on preparing students for higher education and the competition of the global marketplace also factor into his focus on teaching them how to use technology.
Also, John sees public schools as more qualified than anyone—including private or charter or other similar schools—to provide what students need for the future. He puts a high value on continuing staff development and he has positioned us well financially. He encourages administrators, staff, and students to take risks, to try new things and to be leaders.
He saw the virtual school concept as one more way for Liverpool to take the lead in reducing barriers to student learning and to gain more recognition as an outstanding public school.
So, to answer the questions, most students would qualify. Specifically, the groups we have in mind include, but are not limited to: students in small, rural schools; medically homebound students; students whose families homeschool them; alternative education students; migrant students; non-traditional students such as athletes who travel year-round; students who move from Liverpool but would like to earn their diploma from here. The list goes on.
Online course development is a long, expensive process. Many of the virtual schools in the U. S. use commercial software. Although choosing to create our own courses has caused the development process to take longer than I would have liked, we're proud of the fact that our courses are locally developed by Liverpool's experienced, NYS certified teachers and we assure school districts that our courses meet NYS Learning Standards.
Our Board of Education has the same risk-taking mentality that our superintendent does, and Liverpool is well-positioned financially, so we could do this. The Kentucky Virtual High School, a statewide initiative launched by Governor Patton, got $1million the first two years to get up and running. We've gotten underway with, believe me, far less than that, due to the generosity of Telergy and Sensis Corporation. Both corporations have contributed more than $100,000 to this project in the past ten months.
Another limitation is the lack of standardization in technology. For example, it's difficult to create a video clip that our low-end as well as high-end users will find easy to use and appealing.
Another challenge is the attendance requirement in New York State. Proving online attendance is somewhat "doable" in terms of counting hits but it's not a fair assessment of a student's participation or a reflection of what he's learning. We're asking Albany to consider allowing us to make some changes in this area.
As for evaluating needs and making recommendations, in hindsight, I have to say that although I didn't think I knew what I was doing, my experience as an educator and administrator helped me to make what turned out to be wise decisions. This is about teaching and learning so we have to be careful not to let the technology take center stage. It's there to facilitate the teaching and learning, not to overpower them or take their place. Every audio clip, every graphic MUST support the learning objective of the lesson, unit, or activity. If it doesn't, it doesn't belong there.
One of my teachers has another idea for a way of evaluating students:
"Since I am teaching a section of Computer Science "face-to-face" also, I hope to be able to do some statistical testing to see how the kids compare and perhaps link up some of the Virtual kids with our LHS kids."
This teacher finished his course development: "I am very excited and anxious to get started. My job satisfaction is at an all-time (high) because of this."
This teacher is finishing her course development: "It is going well and I KNOW it will be great when I get finished with it."
Parents are always looking to expand their children's opportunities. They call me and say, "I can't believe Liverpool is doing this. How can my child get involved?"
Administrators, especially in the small, rural schools, continue to try to expand course offerings for their students. An administrator from a nearby city told me last night, "I am personally moved by what you're doing and can't wait to get you here to give a presentation."
Young people are comfortable trying new things and many contact me to ask about taking online classes. They're eager to take courses such as anatomy and physiology and a music critic course. Frankly, we're not keeping up with the requests.
Also, there's greater opportunity for more meaningful interaction with the teacher because there's no time pressure to move to the next class or catch the bus or get to the next student in line. In addition, using technology as a tool for learning is an added bonus that is certain to brighten their future in higher education or at work.
Night-owls like I am would love the opportunity to study online because most schools don't hold class at midnight when we like to be up working!
Also, have you ever tried getting up the hill to OCC in the middle of a blizzard??
Well, I got long-winded but I hope you see how enthusiastic I am about our initiative. Thank you again for the opportunity to share our excitement with others. We hope they'll feel the way we do!
Laura B. Lavine is a New York State certified school district administrator with 14 years of administrative experience. She has been a principal with the Liverpool Central School District since 1994. Before that she served as principal director of special education, and she developed and administered a special education pre-school program. Laura earned a bachelor's degree and master of science degree in speech-language pathology and audiology from Ithaca College and is currently a doctoral candidate in the School of Education program at Syracuse University.
For more information about the Virtual School @ Liverpool™, contact: Laura Lavine