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How to Start Online Schooling

Quick tips for administrators.

1. Seek out ideas. Those who have already implemented virtual schooling can offer plenty of suggestions on how to get an online learning program off the ground and keep it flying.

2. Invest in design. Spend time and resources up front on instructional and Web design to make sure that online courses deliver their content effectively.

3. Get competent teachers. Find teachers who are adept in areas such as promoting collaborative learning, pacing long-range student projects, and working individually with students.

4. Train. Provide the lead time to further train your chosen teachers in transferring the skills above into an online environment and in using Web 2.0 tools, from Blackboard to Google Docs. Develop and publish standards for evaluating teaching performance online.

5. Create pacing. Set a pace for students to finish work, including an advanced pace chart to allow them to go at double speed if they can handle it, and an extended pace chart for students who need more time.

6. Get buy-in. Get buy-in at your school, and involve administrators at the participating bricks-and-mortar school in the rollout of online courses.

7. Start small. Start small in your first year, with online pilots or a modest menu of courses.

8. Find a leader. Make sure to have someone dedicated to running the online learning program and focused on teacher performance and student outcomes.