Our projects are as varied as our clients.
We seek to understand the national landscape of K-12 online learning and apply our understanding to the challenges that schools, agencies, legislators, and others face. While most of our work focuses on K-12 online learning, it also extends beyond online learning to other areas of educational technology, and beyond K-12 to post-secondary education and lifelong learning. While much of our work is national in scope, we also work with individual states, schools, districts, and companies as researchers, advisors, and evaluators.
Online Learning Consulting for School Districts
We serve as experienced, independent guides to assist school administrators who are considering how to effectively implement online and blended learning in their school districts. Our consulting is both strategic and operational in nature, depending upon the local need. Our independent guidance has helped school districts in several areas including:
- Investing resources wisely to create strategic long-term plans that lead to high quality online learning for students.
- Rapidly building school district capacity and expertise to manage a quality online program locally and independently.
- Improving educational opportunities while addressing growing competition and shrinking budgets.
Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning
Keeping Pace is the annual report that tracks the latest developments in K-12 online learning policy and practice. It is sponsored by many of the leading online learning organizations in the country. More information about the project, including free downloadable reports and figures for use in presentations or by the media, is available at kpk12.com.
Some of our projects are less defined with a concrete deliverable; we sometimes take on a role as advisors to organizations that want to better understand K-12 online learning. At various times we have taken on this role for the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, Angel Learning, LearningMate, Plato Learning, ThinkWell, Words & Numbers, eCollege, and others.
Promising Practices in K-12 Online Learning
Promising practices is a series of six white papers written for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). Topics are:
- Blended learning
- Using online learning for credit recovery and at-risk students
- Socialization in online learning
- Operations and management
- Policy and funding
- A parents guide to online learning
All of the papers are freely available on iNACOL’s website.
While much of our work looks at online policies and practices nationwide, state-level organizations have asked us to conduct or assist with studies of online learning in their state, in some cases comparing online learning options in the state to other states’ opportunities or national trends and offerings. Examples include The California eLearning Report, written by the University of California College Prep; the Michigan Online Learning Report, written in conjunction with Michigan Virtual University; and The State of Online Learning in Maryland, commissioned by the Maryland State Department of Education.” Although not a state-level report, the National Primer on K-12 Online Learning, based on the California report and published by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, takes a similar approach to national issues in online learning.
Online Programs’ Evaluations
Many online schools hire external evaluators to help them understand what they are doing well and where they might improve. We have conducted evaluations of the Illinois Virtual High School, Idaho Digital Learning Academy, (IDLA) and Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (the last two in conjunction with Tom Clark and TA Consulting). Evaluations typically include a combination of surveys of students, teachers, and parents; interviews and surveys of school administrators; and review of test scores and other measures of student success. We played a limited role with strategic planning for Florida Virtual School, helping to write the strategic plan.
Many of our projects don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories, although they are no less important to us. Examples of these projects include:
State Virtual School Alliance
We are facilitating a collaborative group of state virtual schools working together to share information around best practices and common challenges.
The Trujillo Commission was formed by the Donnell-Kay Foundation in response to the Colorado state audit of online schools. The commission held public hearings, interviewed online learning leaders, and created recommendations that formed the basis for the subsequent law that was passed in Colorado to allow the expansion of online learning. We provided support to the Commission’s research and reporting efforts.
Wyoming Department of Education
In Wyoming we held a similar role with the Wyoming Distance Education Task Force, which proposed recommendations that subsequently were passed by the legislature to create the Wyoming Switchboard Network.