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Reports address dropout recovery and professional development for online learning

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Michigan Virtual worked collaboratively with Dr. Richard Ferdig of Kent State University to produce two reports that provide educators with insights into two key areas of online learning: online professional development for teachers and the student dropout problem. Both reports were released at Michigan Virtual’s 7th Annual Online Learning Symposium on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Dr. Ferdig’s report, Continuous Quality Improvement Through Professional Development for Online K-12 Instructors, provides a review of the research that has been conducted in this emerging area of study, explores the challenges of online professional development and concludes with a set of recommendations and implications for K-12 educators.

This is a topic of high priority for Michigan Virtual and since 2003 Michigan Virtual has worked collaboratively with the Michigan Department of Education to develop and implement an online system of professional development for Michigan educators and school employees. Through the Michigan LearnPort web portal, Michigan Virtual continues to expand the capacity of Michigan’s K-12 education community by providing high-quality, online professional development services on a statewide basis.

“Although there has been a tremendous surge of interest in K-12 online learning, preparing instructors for teaching in electronic environments has not necessarily kept pace,” Dr. Ferdig, Research Professor and Professor of Instructional Technology at Kent State University, said. “This report highlights the reasons why online teachers need professional development, how to deliver that instruction, and implications for virtual schools, teachers, policy-makers and researchers.”

In his second report, Understanding the Role and Applicability of K-12 Online Learning to Support Student Dropout Recovery Efforts, Dr. Ferdig provides a valuable overview of the expanding role that online professional development is playing in K-12 education and provides an extensive review of the research that has been conducted in this area of study, explores the potential impact of virtual schools as an alternative strategy, and concludes with a comprehensive set of recommendations and resources for K-12 educators.

“This paper succinctly defines the dropout problem, provides an extensive review of the research that has been conducted in this area of study, explores the potential impact of virtual schools as an alternative strategy, and concludes with a comprehensive set of recommendations and resources for K-12 educators,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, President & CEO of Michigan Virtual.

Michigan Virtual has also proposed creating a statewide dropout recovery program with online diagnostics, highly qualified Michigan-certified online instructors, online intervention counselors, prescriptive learning modules, self-paced tutorials and practice tests that could help thousands of young adults who have dropped out of school, earn a diploma or prepare for the General Educational Development (GED) exam.

“K-12 Online learning has received tremendous attention for its potential impact on education. More importantly, recent evidence suggests online learning can impact students of all ages and abilities,” Dr. Ferdig said. “This report provides theoretical as well as empirical support for the idea that students who were originally lost to the school system are now using K-12 online education to recover credit and to graduate high school.”

About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual is a private, nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan in 1998 to serve as a champion for online learning. It is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual for Students and Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.

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About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.

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We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.