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Online Education News Roundup: California looks to expand online learning for high school students

A quick roundup from the 2011 Virtual School Symposium

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The three-day Virtual School Symposium came and went last week and Getting Smart’s Sarah Cargill touched on a few of the event’s important happenings in her roundup last week.  Her highlights shouldn’t be considered the theme of the weekend, but there did seem to be a renewed emphasis on blended learning models rather than full-time learning models.

Tom Vander Ark takes aim at the Wall Street Journal

Speaking of Getting Smart, founder and frequent star of our weekly roundup, Tom Vander Ark, took issue with a recent article in the Wall Street Journal he thought was unfairly negative. I will let both articles speak for themselves and there is no use taking sides here, but I do think it is fair to mention how often articles about full-time online learning highlight individual problems. It’s not wrong, because online schools are not without their warts, but it seems to be a favorite topic in recent news articles.

California Online “Bill Of Rights” aims to expand virtual learning for high school students

Superintendent of the Riverside Unified School District Rick Miller and Riverside Virtual School Principal David Haglund are leading an initiative where “students whose high schools don’t offer the required courses or enough sections to qualify them for admission to the University of California or California State University would have a right to take those courses online.”

Essentially Haglund is arguing that some school districts can’t adequately prepare their students for college and thus should have the opportunity to explore other avenues to gain college admission. It would be a giant step forward in a state that, the article points out, is ranked last in terms of openness to virtual learning.

University of North Carolina explores online education as a way to cut costs

The Daily Tar Heel, student newspaper of record for the University of North Carolina, has a story about school system administrators considering online education as a cost-saving measure. Hannah Gage, the chairwoman for the system’s Board of Governors, believes that if they “curb the need for bricks and mortar…then we can pay and retain the brightest and best faculty.” The school system intends to hire a director of online education to oversee this new focus, but only time will tell how effective it might be.

Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen says the time for disruptive innovation in education is “now”

Courtney Boyd Myers of The Next Web culled together a bunch of talking points from Harvard Business Professor, Disruptive Innovation proponent, and Michael Horn mentor, Clayton Christensen. Christensen has long held the view that education is ripe for disruptive innovation and that technology will be the driving force behind it. This is essentially a detailed look at his view and examples to back it up. There is way too much stuff to highlight bits and pieces, so make sure you check out the whole thing.

Blackboard expands its presence in China

In online education business news, Blackboard, an online learning management company, acquired CerBibo, a provider of online learning software in China. The move obviously was done to expand Blackboard’s footprint in China. But the reason I bring it up because of my conversation with Michael Horn last week. He talked about how countries like China and India may adopt disruptive innovation in education earlier than in the United States. This is not necessarily indicative of any great push towards online education in China, but it does show that the country and online education companies around the world are starting to explore the possibilities anyway.