In discussing the ideas surrounding virtual education, it is always wise to show such ideas in action. Having been associated with D2L(Desire2Learn) from its inception, I have seen this company grow and evolve into being one of the largest and most effective online education providers in North America. Rather than me go on about its merits, I am providing a couple of YouTube videos:
- The first one is an interview with Mr. John Baker who is CEO of D2L.
- The second one is an example of an online high school that has its roots in D2L and makes use of the LMS that D2L provides.
The above video gives you an idea of the vision of D2L in regards to online learning.
The next video is an interview with Mr. Stephen Baker, Principal of Virtual High School of Ontario(Canada).
So what is it that makes this virtual education system successful? There are a number of factors:
- The application of the D2L LMS is completely online. All courses are completely optimized for the virtual environment. There are no books that students have to buy in order to work in this environment
- The unique problems that arise in the online virtual environment have been thought through and addressed effectively. For example, how does one deal with the problem of plagiarism by students and even staff in an online environment? A three level plagiarism policy was adopted to meet this challenge head on. How does one administer a final exam and be assured of the integrity of the results in an online environment? How can unit tests be conducted effectively? All these questions have been addressed in a thoughtful way.
- Staff are completely comfortable working in such an environment and constantly upgrade their skills as new virtual education tools are introduced.
- Teachers are explorers, innovators and are willing to step out of their comfort zone.
- Students have constant and timely communication or feedback on their efforts. Teachers act not only as instructors but also as mentors with the goal of encouraging life-long learning.
If you have suggestions of other online education providers, please feel free to comment.......
Next, the challenges of the virtual education environment....