When planning out an Online environment, there are certain considerations that need to be made; some considerations relate to the content that's been created, or to the specific curriculum used, but the most important considerations need to be made to the safety and security of students. These categories need to be at the forefront of the course designer's mind when Teaching or Learning Online - all work done needs to be in relation to these essential aspects.
Teachers have a responsibility to keep students' personal information secure and private. In many cases, this means that K-12 institutions are not privy to the same technological resources that are available to post-secondary institutions, where the students are all adult learners. Specific consideration needs to be made to students under the age of 13, as their digital rights and responsibilities are usually different than older students. For example, many online services require users to be at least 13 before setting up an account.





Standards

  • Digital Citizenship
    • Students working and learning in the 21st century need the required skills to be productive and positive Digital Citizens.
    • The nine established elements of Digital Citizenship are: Digital Access; Digital Commerce; Digital Communication; Digital Literacy; Digital Etiquette; Digital Law; Digital Rights and Responsibilities; Digital Health and Wellness; Digital Security
    • Comprehensive information on each of the Nine Elements and related resources are available at www.DigitalCitizenship.net

  • ISTE / NETS
    • ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is an association of educators, trainers and leaders that support excellence in technology in education
    • NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) are the guiding documents produced by ISTE that help students, teachers and administrators navigate the ever-changing world of technology in education




Safety / Security

  • FOIP
    • Teachers in Alberta have a responsibility to ensure student data is secure and their information and privacy is respected.
    • School boards have their own specific regulations, and it's the responsibility of the teacher to ensure FOIP is being respected.
    • For example, in the CBE, no student data or identifiable information can be stored on a network or server that is not located within Canadian borders. Any violation of this is a breach of the FOIP agreements.


Research

MacRae, P. (2015). Myth: Blended learning is the next ed-tech revolution. Retrieved from: http://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20Magazine/Volume%2095%202014-15/Number-4/Pages/Myth-Phil-McRae.aspx
This article discusses some of the Hype, Harm and Hope of blended learning. The blended learning discussed within is not necessarily representative of all forms of blended or online learning, and has a specific focus on for-profit organizations creating software for schools to use. "Blended learning is not a new term nor a revolutionary concept for classrooms in this second decade of the 21st century. However, the way it is being (re)interpreted could be hopeful or harmful depending on how it is implemented. It is an increasingly ambiguous and vague notion that is growing in popularity as many groups try to claim the space and establish the models, despite a lack of evidence and research. We should therefore be skeptical around the mythos of blended learning before endorsing or lauding it as the next great reform."

Ramaswami, R. (2009).Even! But no longer odd. Retrieved from: http://thejournal.com/Articles/2009/05/01/Even-But-No-Longer-Odd.aspx
This article focuses on the changing perceptions of online learning, and how a K-12 online education is equal to - if not better than - a traditional education. The article recognizes the changes that have happened over the past five years, and the rapid changes that have happened in this field. The author is quite honest about the history of online learning, and emphasized how the perception was that students were placed into online learning because they somehow did not fit into traditional schools. She analyzes the common perceptions in online education, and questions whether early virtual schools deserved the suspect reputation - or if there was an overall suspicious misunderstanding of the format. By using specific evidence of online schools throughout the United States, the article highlights the benefits of online learning, and how (in some situations), the education is better suited to the student. An educational leader would be able to use this resource to review the short history of online learning, to better understand why certain misconceptions exist within the educational community and general society. By understanding the "dubious beginning" associated with online learning and virtual schools, the educator would be more adept at re-presenting their position of the benefits of online schooling.

Smith, R., Clark, T. and Blomyer, R. (2005). A synthesis of new research on K-12 online learning. Naperville, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved from: http://www.ncrel.org/tech/synthesis/synthesis.pdf
Through the study of eight different research reports (all published in 2005), this NCREL paper explores and examines online learning in K-12 environments. Through their examination, the authors also offer specific recommendations for schools and education departments to take when planning for the future. The study makes an effort to describe the different types of online schools, including those that students attend full-time, and those that are used as a supplement to a student's "traditional" education. This is an important distinction, as the eight different research reports were conducted in a variety of different environments. The authors identify six prevalent themes in the research reports: academic performance; characteristics of successful online students; qualities of effective online courses; professional development for effective online teaching; challenges of online learning; and online learning, school change and educational reform. These six trends weren't present in all eight reports, but represent the most commonly discussed aspects of online learning. The educational leader would find this summary useful, as a way to further research specific trends in online learning. The authors propose that all eight studies had at least two common themes: understanding the challenges of online learning, and the interplay between online learning, school change and the impact on Educational Reform. This summary would be an excellent starting point to better understand the broad, wide-spread issues and concerns of K-12 online learning.