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Friday, September 08, 2017

Reflecting on year one of Nebraska's first virtual school | EdScoop News

Photo: Emily Tate
"Omaha Virtual School, launched in August 2016, will experience some changes in its second year. School leaders reveal what they've learned so far" reports Emily Tate, staff reporter at Scoop News Group.

Parents and students of Omaha Virtual School at orientation for the new school year. 
Photo: Wendy Loewenstein

Nebraska’s first — and, for now, only — virtual school recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and is moving ahead with a number of notable changes to the structure and curriculum based on feedback and lessons learned during the first year.

The Omaha Virtual School (OVS) launched in fall 2016 as a full-time, tuition-free K-8 public school, touting a blended learning environment that is flexible and personalized to each student.

The experiment has not received any help from the Nebraska Legislature, where a bill stalled last year that would have provided funding for virtual schools. Instead, Omaha Public Schools took a gamble on the online program and allotted a portion of its general fund to help get OVS up and running.

“Any time you do something for the first time, especially in a state like ours, it’s ever-evolving,” said Rob Dickson, director of information management services at Omaha Public Schools, in an interview with EdScoop. “The model of a hybrid student today is what a future student looks like.” 

During the pilot year, teachers and leaders at the virtual school learned that student success depends largely on the parents — and that they must communicate that responsibility early and often. They also learned that the school's tech-heavy learning environment works quite well as-is, even if not all parents are ready to acclimate to that style of instruction. And, after trying out a number of different blended learning approaches, OVS has tweaked the day-to-day schedule to add rigor and simplify the in-person meetings.

Together, these adjustments have given the virtual school and district leaders confidence to begin thinking about the longer-term trajectory of OVS. 
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Source: EdScoop News

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