In the News
Idaho Digital Learning Alliance welcomes distinguished speakers to June’s summer conference
June 15, 2021 –
Every year Idaho Digital Learning Alliance (IDLA) hosts a face-to-face professional development training that focuses on both the pedagogy and the practicalities of effective online teaching. All IDLA instructors are required to attend the June Summer Conference and complete internal professional development. Due to safety concerns during the continuing pandemic, this year’s conference is being held online both synchronously and asynchronously over a two week period of time.
This year’s theme is We’re Still Standing. Sessions will provide various outlooks on how educators can grow their practice after adversity. Asynchronous sessions are designed to support and train IDLA educators in the best practices in online education through a variety of technology applications. Under the umbrella of best practices in online education, course participants will explore standards, teaching models, assessments, and technology. The course will provide participants with opportunities to observe and experience models of teaching that effectively integrate technology. In addition, educators will be encouraged and supported in their development of teaching plans.
During our synchronous sessions on June 17 and 18, 2021, we are excited to welcome distinguished keynote speakers Bryan Harris, Ed.D. and Jim Abbott.
VHS Learning President & CEO featured on ACE-Ed
VHS Learning President & CEO broaches another key topic to tackle amit the pandemic; the curicculum gap.
VLLA Members Featured in Education Week blog
March 30, 2020 –
Click here to read this digital education blog titled “Virtual Education Dilemma: Scheduled Classroom Instruction vs. Anytime Learning” from Education Week reporter, Mark Leiberman. Perspectives and resources from VLLA members are shared.
VLLA Members are in Washington DC
November 5, 2019 –
Executive Directors and staff from five VLLA member programs are in Washington DC this week for the State Education Technology Director Association’s (SETDA) Leadership Summit. The VLLA is a new affiliate of SETDA. The VLLA members presented to Summit attendee the National Standards for Quality Online Learning (NSQ) and virtual learning solutions to address challenges faced by rural schools and students.
Today, Executive Directors were invited to the U.S Department of Education to further discuss rural advocacy initiatives.
The Digital Learning Annual Conference kicks off the DLAC Superintendent’s Program
September 23, 2019 –
The Digital Learning Annual Conference, DLAC, has created a unique conference experience for district superintendents to complement the core activities of the conference taking place February 24-26, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Click here to learn more
Online Ed: Using Course Design Standards to Support Student Success
September 10, 2019 –
VLLA Director Cindy Hamblin and Quality Matters k-12 Program Director Christine Voelker speak with Education Talk Radio’s Larry Jacobs about using course design standards to support students online. Click here to listen
VLLA Executive Directors to Present at NREA
August 22, 2019 –
A number of VLLA Executive Directors and staff will be attending and presenting at the 2019 National Forum to Advance Rural Education and the 111th NREA Convention in Louisville KY October 24 – 26. For more information visit the NREA website.
VLLA Summer 2019 Book Study
The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance is pleased to announce this year’s Book Study starting June 24th.
Join educators from across the country this summer to read, learn, communicate, and share with the book “Think Outside the Box: The CIA of Blended Learning and 10+ Designs for Secondary Schools.” The book study will take place June 24 through August 4.
Revised K-12 National Standards For Quality Online Teaching and Programs Released By Quality Matters And The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance
The broad-based effort to create updated, flexible standards reflecting current best practices that contribute to student success provides a new foundation to build quality online learning experiences for K-12 students
A decade after the release of the National Standards for Quality Online Programs, the standards, along with the National Standards for Online Teaching, were updated to provide online K-12 schools, districts, and programs with a new foundation for building quality online learning experiences.
The effort was led by Quality Matters (QM) and the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA), who joined forces to continue the important work that iNACOL began. “The National Standards for Quality Online Courses and Online Teaching Standards, built on the research and work on online course and teaching quality standards published originally by the Southern Regional Education Board, were researched, tested and published nationally by iNACOL beginning in 2006, and have stood as a benchmark for quality online learning for more than ten years,” said Bruce Friend, iNACOL’s Chief Operating Officer. “With the thoughtful and skillful stewardship of QM and VLLA, we are confident that the standards will continue to be a vital asset for the K-12 online community.”
“Quality Matters is committed to partnering with like-minded organizations to continue to develop resources and tools that extend beyond course design,” shared Dr. Deb Adair, Quality Matters Executive Director. “Partnering with the VLLA to revise these standards allowed us to build on critical competencies to extend our quality assurance work, and provided another way to support the K-12 community and its work to ensure quality in online learning.”
“On behalf of the fourteen programs which comprise the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance, I want to convey our appreciation of the unique working partnership with Quality Matters that allowed us to successfully accomplish the National Standards for Quality initiative,” added Robert Currie, VLLA Board Chair and Executive Director of Montana Digital Academy. “The updated standards and indicators provide the framework for implementing and maintaining quality online programs, courses and teaching.”
Over 100 individuals with expertise in either K-12 online learning research or practice contributed to the revision, representing a variety of state and regional online learning programs as well as universities and researchers. Private companies, nonprofit organizations, and foundations were also represented. John Watson, the founder of Evergreen Education Group, praised the highly collaborative process, “I’m thrilled that Digital Learning Collaborative members have been part of the group working on the National Standards revisions. The updated standards will be incredibly valuable to the teachers and school leaders implementing online and blended learning. The field has advanced considerably since the original standards were released, and the new version represents the latest thinking about how to implement online and blended learning to improve outcomes for all students.”
A comprehensive literature review, a users survey and correlation documents were used to inform the revision process, resulting in standard sets that reflect the latest best practices. They also include new explanations and examples that expand the guidance provided in previous versions. The explanations and examples also create flexibility — allowing programs to apply the standards to blended, competency-based or other learning strategies employed.
The revised standards are available to the public under a Creative Commons License and can be downloaded on the National Standards for Quality website. Dawn Nordine, Executive Director, Wisconsin Virtual School and a member of the National Standards for Quality Leadership Team expressed the excitement that her team is feeling over the release, “We, along with many other online programs across the country, are thrilled about the release of the National Standards for Quality Online Learning. The previous standards have been the foundation for building quality K-12 online opportunities for students. Having revised guidance on what exemplary practice looks like today will support program leaders and teachers to plan, implement, and evaluate quality online learning for K-12 students.”
QM’s Director of K-12 Programs Christine Voelker and VLLA’s former Director Butch Gemin and current Director Cindy Hamblin spearheaded the revision efforts on behalf of their organizations and are committed to the ongoing review and improvement of the standards. The final set of standards — the National Standards for Quality Online Courses — are currently under review with a planned release in September 2019.
About the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance
The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance is an association of the most innovative virtual programs in the U.S. Consisting largely of leading state virtual schools and several consortia, the member organizations serve well over a quarter of a million online course enrollments annually, provide their districts and students with over 2,200 highly qualified teachers trained in online instruction, supply blended learning services to their constituents and conduct research to validate and inform best practice in online learning. The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization (virtuallearningalliance.org) that includes Georgia Virtual School, Idaho Digital Learning Alliance, Illinois Virtual School, Indiana Online, Michigan Virtual, Montana Digital Academy, Nevada Learning Academy, North Carolina Virtual Public School, Virtual Arkansas, The Virtual High School, Virtual SC, Virtual Virginia, Wisconsin eSchool Network and Wisconsin Virtual School.
About Quality Matters
Quality Matters (QM) is the global organization leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments. It provides a scalable quality assurance system for online and blended learning used within and across organizations. When you see QM Certification Marks on courses or programs, it means they have met QM Course Design Standards or QM Program Review Criteria in a rigorous review process.
VLLA 2019 Book Study
The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance is pleased to announce this spring’s Book Study starting March 3.
Join educators from across the country to read, learn, communicate, and share with the book “UDL in the Clouds! How to Design and Deliver Online Education Using Universal Design for Learning.” The book study will take place March 3 through April 13.
Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance appoints Cindy Hamblin as director
Former head of the Illinois Virtual School will help power VLLA’s mission to ensure quality online education
February 1, 2019 –
The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) recently selected Ms. Cindy Hamblin as its new director. The VLLA brings together leaders from the most innovative online learning programs in the U.S. to strengthen virtual education through leadership, advocacy, expertise and professional relationships. In her new role as director, Ms. Hamblin will provide organizational leadership and management as the Alliance explores and analyzes research and trends critical to providing high-quality online and blended learning and provides thought leadership to the field. Her responsibilities include the preparation and facilitation of VLLA Board planning and development meetings as well as its various workgroups. Ms. Hamblin will also oversee the organization’s public presence, including its website and other communication channels.
“Speaking on behalf of the Alliance, which has been in existence since 2008, we are very pleased to have Cindy as our new director. The relationships she has already formed with our members as well as her knowledge of our unique organization’s goals and direction will allow her to hit the ground running and keep us moving forward,” said Robert Currie, VLLA board president and executive director of the Montana Digital Academy.
As director of the Illinois Virtual School for nine years, Ms. Hamblin provided oversight of the quality of online courses, instructors and services to students. Under her leadership, the program launched initiatives that resulted in substantial increases in course enrollments and several new programs or services developed to meet the needs of Illinois schools and students. Ms. Hamblin holds degrees from Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University and joins the VLLA with twenty-three years of experience in educational technology.
“I am thrilled to be part of the VLLA team,” Hamblin said. “I look forward to working with this exceptional group of online learning leaders as we work together on innovative activities and projects that enhance the field of online and blended learning.”
A prime initiative that Ms. Hamblin will oversee is the completion of the update of the National Standards for Quality Online Learning in partnership with Quality Matters. This project sets national standards for quality in online programs, courses and teaching. The updated program and teaching standards will be released nationally on March 1, 2019.
What makes an online course great?
ASCD featured Amy Miele’s blog post in its January 30, 2019 issue of SmartBrief. Amy, a senior curriculum and instruction coordinator for The Virtual High School, shares key elements in course design that provide students with an engaging and effective educational experiences.
The Virtual High School, a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization that has empowered students, schools and teachers with quality online learning programs since 1996, is a member of the VLLA. Below is a link to Amy Miele’s post.
K-12 National Standards for Quality Online Courses, Teaching and Programs Set To Be Revised
February 27, 2018 —
Quality Matters (QM) and the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) are proud to announce a new partnership between QM and the VLLA to revise the National Standards for Quality Online Courses, Online Teaching and Online Programs, building upon the work started by The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).
The purpose of the National Standards for Quality revision initiative is to provide the K-12 online and blended learning community with an updated set of openly licensed standards to help evaluate and improve online courses, online teaching and online programs.
“We are excited to start the revision work and continue to build upon the tradition iNACOL established of an inclusive approach in reviewing, national benchmarking and enhancing the standards,” said Butch Gemin, representing the VLLA. “The last revision of these standards was done in 2011. This creates another opportunity to bring online learning leaders together to share their expertise and passion,” Gemin said. “We look forward to providing educators a relevant set of standards they can use to fit the unique needs of their programs, while at the same time, providing consistent benchmarks for quality.”
Work will begin in February of 2018, with a goal of completing the National Standards for Quality Online Teaching and Online Programs revision in fall of 2018, and the National Standards for Quality Online Courses in the fall of 2019.
Both organizations are committed to a continuous improvement cycle for all three sets of standards for online learning, and to a common philosophy that standards in such a dynamic area as digital learning must be updated regularly to provide a useful benchmark for schools, districts, statewide programs and commercial suppliers of online and blended learning.
“Educators are working so hard to provide equitable alternative learning experiences for all students,” said Christine Voelker, QM’s K-12 Program Director. “By bringing the National Standards up to current standards of quality we are helping schools and districts provide the supports they need to help students succeed.“
About Quality Matters
Quality Matters (QM) is an international non-profit organization (qualitymatters.org) that provides tools and professional development for quality assurance in online and blended learning, continuously revised to reflect the most current research and best practice. When you see QM Certification Marks on courses or programs, it means they have met QM Course Design Standards or QM Program Review criteria in a rigorous review process.