South Carolina and Utah Implement Affordable and Sustainable e-Learning Solutions to Serve State High School Students

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Despite Dwindling Budgets, State Programs and Virtual Schools Demonstrate Academic Success Online While Significantly Decreasing Costs with Moodlerooms’ Managed Open-Source e-Learning Platform.

For many state governments today, the value of e-Learning has evolved beyond providing teachers with an alternative means for delivering in-class instruction—it is a pivotal, results-driven component of state curriculum. South Carolina and Utah are two examples of how states can creatively implement sustainable e-Learning solutions to deliver more effective and engaging instruction that align with state budgets, goals and educational standards. Moodlerooms understands the needs of states’ virtual and blended learning environments and is committed to helping shape unique e-Learning programs that cultivate the 21st century skills of today’s learners.

In an effort to improve graduation rates, the state of South Carolina passed a bill that approved the creation of the South Carolina Virtual School Program (SCVSP), a blended learning program that offered its high school students supplemental courses for subjects that weren’t offered in the form of traditional, in-person classes. Additionally, the SCVSP offered “content recovery classes,” which enabled high school students statewide to access and fulfill required classes for graduation online.

Originally established as a pilot program in 2007, the SCVSP was implemented using an e-Learning system based on closed, proprietary software. According to Bradley Mitchell, SCDOE LMS Administrator, reduced state budgets led the SCDOE to switch to Moodlerooms’ affordable Moodle-based e-Learning platform. The switch to Moodlerooms’ solution will save the SCVSP 30% annually and allows the program to continue to grow.

From inception until Spring 2010, the South Carolina Virtual School Program experienced a consistent 55% annual growth in student enrollment. For the 2009- 2010 term (after switching to Moodlerooms in the Spring of 2009), the SCVSP delivered 64 unique blended learning courses to over 14,000 students--60% of    which were senior-level students who were enrolled in courses to satisfy required classes in order to graduate on time. In November 2009, South Carolina was ranked second in the nation for developing online programs by the Center for Digital Education.

“We needed to move to a lower-cost system that was flexible for our teachers. After evaluating other systems, Moodlerooms could simply provide the solution we needed,” says Bradley Mitchell. “Budgets are tighter statewide, but that hasn’t stopped us. The state is proud of its program and Moodlerooms has given us the chance to sustain and expand our program regardless.”

Utah is another example of how states can creatively harness e-Learning to deliver purposeful and engaging online instruction. The Open High School of Utah, a statewide, full-service online charter high school that is committed to the use of open educational resources (OERs), decided midway through its first year in operation (2009-2010) to re-evaluate the provider of its e-Learning platform due to budget constraints and the need for flexibility in designing courses that supported unprecedented levels of individualized instruction within a highly responsive curriculum.

“We were concerned about the cost and the limited potential of what we were using. Considering that we publicly release our OER-based courses, housing them in an LMS where access and portability were difficult didn't accomplish anything. We were searching for a dynamic LMS that had the features we needed now” says Sarah Weston, Curriculum Director for the Open High School of Utah. “After we were presented with all the different options, it was the features and pricing that ultimately drove our decision. Plus, anticipating the direction that open-source is heading made our decision almost seem like a no brainer.”

For the 2010-2011 school year, Open High School switched to Moodlerooms’ managed open-source Moodle-based e-Learning platform, joule, to deliver online classes to 250 Utah students in grades 9 and 10. After making the switch from its initial proprietary solution to Moodlerooms, the virtual school is projected to save over 75% in annual costs. In the future, the Open High School of Utah plans to expand its virtual school program to 11th and 12th graders to serve an enrollment of 1500 students for the 2013 - 2014 school year.

About Moodlerooms:
Moodlerooms provides educators and learners across the globe with proven e-Learning solutions that are flexible, scalable, reliable and affordable. By combining Dell Cloud Hosting, Managed Open-Source, and Software-as-a-Service delivery, Moodlerooms’ customers receive the benefits of open-source Moodle with the comfort and assurance that come from enterprise-level deployment, implementation, value added support, and consulting services. With an unwavering commitment to creating a more effective and engaging education community, Moodlerooms is the change you want e-Learning to be.

About the South Carolina Virtual School Program:
The mission of the South Carolina Virtual School Program is to provide high quality, standards based, online instruction to the students of South Carolina; to supplement and expand the conventional school day with effective alternatives to deal with economic, staffing and scheduling issues in an effort to increase the graduation rate in South Carolina.

About the Open High School of Utah:
The Open High School of Utah is putting the focus where it should be – on the student. Our mission is to facilitate lifelong success by meeting the needs of the 21st century learner through individualized, student-centered instruction, innovative technology, service learning, and personal responsibility.

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Brad Schleicher