Identification of key criteria in virtual education programs grades 9-12
Stueve, Lisa Michelle
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Currently, there are no generally recognized standards, guidelines, policies, or procedures in place for the development, growth, or maintenance of online education programs. The identification of key components of distance education as it relates to web-based course delivery for students in Grades 9-12 are considered. The research was centered on three areas of concern: policy, people, and technology. The research questions were directed to the future of teaching and learning in virtual classrooms. The researcher developed a survey instrument which was sent to 57 panelists consisting of virtual high school administrators, eCourseware providers, and educators. Three research questions were investigated using a modified Delphi approach. Definitions and examples were provided to assist in the process of brainstorming ideas in order to generate a specific list of the key components to online education for students in grades 9-12. Second, all criteria solicited through the initial instrument were reviewed and ranked as 1 (critical), 2 (indispensable), 3 (expendable) or 4 (unnecessary). Finally, criteria were reported in rank order and a request to order, modify, and/or add to the initial response based upon their review of other members ideas was made. The data gathered by this survey instrument became the basis for the key criteria in virtual education programs Grades 9–12. The resulting list of criteria based on the established rank from the panelists included 50 key items considered by panelists to be necessary to establish and maintain a virtual program in Grades 9-12. The survey results validated the absence of standards, guidelines, policies, and procedures and assisted in pointing the direction in which these could possibly be established. Future studies should include existing local guidelines and practices. It is recommended that facilities be addressed as an entirely unique topic in order to capture data that includes the impact on the physical structures, technology hardware, as well as student and instructor access to facilities. When replicating this study there is a need to encourage a discussion of impact for facilities. It is also suggested that the criteria category of policy be subdivided in a future study to include legislative policy, that is, state and federal rules and guidelines that are requirements for entities within their boundaries, as a separate category than that of local school program policies and procedures.