Scalability of Distance Learning Initatives

USLDA Conference: Scalability of Distance Learning Initiatives within Current School Models Resistant to Change by Daryl Diamond, Assistant Director, Enterprise Change Implementation, Broward County Public Schools, FL

6th largest school district in the country; first franchise of Florida Virtual School

She started with a “distance learning program attribute checklist” with keys for implementation. It has five categories:

Some of these ideas come from Comprehensive School Reform.

Scaling isn’t just the number of people using a technology or tool. It’s not just pockets of educational reform.

Coburn’s (2003) Dimensions of Scale

  • Spread – increased numbers
  • Depth – changes in teachers beliefs and practice
  • Sustainability – how does it sustain after reform funding ends
  • Shift in Reform Ownership

Think about scaling up vs. going to scale. Going to scale means that it’s integrated into regular practice and becomes the norm.

There are some ways that distance learning is better than face to face – where the online learning model meets multiple intelligences and authentic assessment is used. And face to face is just the lock step workbook page that everyone has to be on the same page by the mideterm.

Do you ever feel like you’re building an airplane in the sky?

Does the distance learning program change the pedagogical principles? Is the project able to continue if funding is pulled?

Broward has videoconferencing systems in all the high schools, used mostly for full courses. They also have VC in the elementary and middle schools. In addition they have a middle & high school level virtual school.

“going to scale” includes changing basic pedagogical practices.

“researchers have been looking at the wrong thing” – only how many teachers are using it? how many students are using it? Instead we should look at how teaching has changed?

We need to move past “it’s innovative, it’s fun, it’s viable, it’s enjoyable”.

Interesting idea she has: use VC to mentor teachers. Both teachers hook up their classes – the mentor teacher teaches both classes while the other teacher learns/observes. It’s implemented in face to face classes to meet the needs of new teachers.

“How many of your programs started with a grant?” What happens when the grant funding dries up?

She sees distance learning as a critical tool to address the mandates for all students to have access to quality learning.

There’s a nice intro to their VC programs here. Their VC courses are supported by web resources.

Then we looked at the checklist again to consider how our programs are going to scale based on the checklist. The checklist isn’t online that I could find, but you can email Daryl – her contact information is on the link at the top.

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