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Articles: Virtual

Interest in virtual reality is becoming an increasing reality in public schools as ed-tech companies offer more cost-effective devices.

As we face a new year with a new president, Newsletter Editor Ariana Fine looked back on 2016 to consider the biggest and most influential stories in K12 education. 

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Exciting students about learning is the No. 1 reason schools are experimenting with virtual reality.

It's a rapidly advancing technology the most district expect to use in the near future. 

Other benefits educators have cited?

It reduces the costs of field trips and encourages creativity. 

See the infographic at right—and this related story—for more details.  

Using tablets, apps and YouTube videos, students at a Minnesota elementary school have added new virtual elements to paintings and other artwork, so their masterpieces include videos that not only get them engaged, but also help them better understand ideas behind the art itself.

Students can step inside an astronaut’s’ boots to experience life and research onboard the international space station with online science courses offered by the Virtual High School, which supplements public school instruction.

Saving time in Biloxi: Technology director Mike Jennings works on a computer while John Farris, network supervisor, looks on. Biloxi Public Schools’ students use thin clients that speed up downloads and ease testing prep compared to traditional computers.

The concept of “going virtual” has been gaining traction in the IT world for years. Today, school CIOs who have taken the next step—the virtualization of desktop computers—see a new range of benefits, including increased flexibility for users, cost savings, stronger security, and more frequent updates of hardware and software.

Custom playlist: At Horizons on the Hudson school in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, IT specialist Joseph Catania watches students demonstrate how they use ClassLink to access SAFARI Montage for videos they need for a project.

Let’s face it, digital content—from the Khan Academy to streaming videos to adaptive learning applications—has enveloped K12 education. While some district leaders have only begun replacing printed learning materials with the new technology, other districts are going entirely digital.

State average internet adoption rates in 2014. (Click to enlarge)

Many states and schools turn to online distance education to help students access postsecondary courses or even a degree. But students nationwide have varying access to adequate broadband speeds and the financial means to maintain a strong internet connection.

Guthrie Virtual School provides state-mandated Spanish instruction to about a half-dozen remote Texas towns that couldn’t afford to hire a full-time certified teacher.

In January, the Jackson Public Schools became the first district in Mississippi to launch an evening high school that students attend from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. It’s designed for students whose other commitments—such as jobs or caring for their own children or younger siblings—make traditional school hours difficult.

Schools provide blended learning opportunities in different ways. State-run virtual schools generally offer only online instruction.

Online learning activity in public districts has overtaken state-level virtual schools and charters, according to the 12th annual “Keeping Pace with K12 Digital Learning” report, released in December.

Poudre School District’s Global Academy ranked among the highest in the state of Colorado for student growth across all grades for the 2013-14 school year. 

No more snow days? Online instruction is replacing snow days in a growing number of school districts.

Sledding hills across the country may be a bit quieter this winter as snowstorms no longer mean a break from schoolwork for some students. An increasing number of districts are using e-learning to keep class in session during bad weather and to meet the required number of instruction days without having to add makeups to the calendar.

School systems in at least 10 states used up the year’s snow days by mid-February

The winter of record cold and heavy snow nationwide is finally over, but its impact persists even as students begin the countdown to summer break. Districts in several states are turning to online learning to make up for missed class time.

Students participating in the virtual field trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden watched horticulturalists demonstrate tree removal and the environmental impact of an invasive beetle.

Students from around the world have been traveling virtually to the White House, the Antarctic and the International Space Station thanks to a Google+ program that helps classrooms confined by budget cuts explore the world outside of school.

When deciding whether online learning is right for your district, many questions arise, from deciding on the best curriculum to how to properly onboard families. How to train staff and how success will be measured must also be thought through. This web seminar, originally broadcast on March 13, 2013, joined together online learning experts from across the country to discuss how they were able to successfully introduce online curriculum in their districts.

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