Support Network Connects North Carolina Virtual Public Schools
In recent years, districts across North Carolina have opened virtual schools to provide educational options for students and their families. Various models have emerged based on the needs of each unique community.
In some cases, virtual schools offer various course offerings in districts where in-person instruction is limited. In other areas, these virtual schools are the direct result of the fact that students and parents prefer a highly personalized and flexible environment to traditional schooling. While some of these schools are primarily asynchronous, others are a mix of synchronous and asynchronous virtual teaching, while still others combine online and face-to-face experiences. To add another layer of variation between districts, these virtual schools differ in terms of curriculum; they create their own, partner with outside organizations to use their own, or rely primarily on NC Virtual Public School (NCVirtual).
New support model
After the onset of the pandemic, there was a surge in the number of newly opened virtual schools across the state. Although each of the schools had distinct challenges, school leaders expressed needs around human resources, personalized learning, parent/community engagement, technology/space, and curriculum. studies.
In an effort to help identify and address critical needs surrounding diverse virtual learning environments, NC State University’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and NC Virtual Public School have partnered to develop and implement a virtual school network (VSN) focused on connecting local traditional schools. virtual public schools. The network is designed in a responsive, innovative and sustainable way to ensure that the needs of stakeholders are paramount.
On March 10, we invited a small group of educators from nine local traditional virtual public schools to attend a day-long meeting to explore ways to design an institution-wide network of leaders and stakeholders. State committed to transforming teaching and learning by reimagining how learners navigate space and place. Each visiting school brought a design team of four: a director/program director, a teacher, a guidance counselor or other support staff member, and a district administrator.
During this first meeting, we explored the following design challenge statement: How might we create an innovative network designed to meet the unique needs of educators in virtual schools?
Networking Fundamentals — and a Summer Opportunity
There are several key axes of the network:
The Friday Institute and NCVirtual build on the strengths of each organization to better understand the current state of virtual schools, the needs they share, and the resources already available. Other partners will be added as the network grows.
The Partnership Team will co-create the VSN Design Principles based on feedback obtained from a stakeholder feedback group. This will generate a common language for network members to plan, reflect and vision together. Knowing that schools are in different places, these design principles could serve as an ongoing/reflective tool to help virtual schools be more innovative, equitable and sustainable.
Virtual schools often face the same challenges and obstacles during the start-up period. The VSN will develop strategies to address staffing issues, create professional development, design quality courses, assess technology needs, establish support structures, scale, and plan for sustainability.
In June, our first-ever Summer Institute (SI) invites school teams to a two-day get-together (June 28-29) at the Friday Institute in Raleigh, NC to celebrate the launch of our 2022-23 VSN. The leadership teams in attendance will engage in capacity building and opportunities to shape the vision of the VSN network to respond to the realities of educators in local traditional virtual public schools. Participants will have the opportunity to develop their own leadership and, as a team, learn and network with similar leaders from other schools in the area and/or state.
Not only will this network create space for schools to learn with each other, but it has the potential to identify centers of excellence, communicate themes/patterns across the state, and advocate for unique needs. traditional virtual public schools in North Carolina. .
If your school would like to be part of this innovative network, we invite you to register for the 2022 VSN Summer Institute. The cost is $1,000 per team. Participants will receive a certificate of completion on the second day of the event which they can submit for local CEUs. Space is limited. Please go here for more information.