Greetings from Indianapolis, where here on the first full, chilly morning of the Virtual School Symposium, the benefits of distance learning—particularly when done from a nice, warm, heated bedroom—should be evident to everybody.
Last night, however, I braved the cold to attend the unveiling of a new system called Octane, developed by Ucompass.com, and still in the very early stages of usability, which Florida Virtual School officials said is the beginning of creating an alternative to learning management systems for anyone providing online content.
Essentially, Octane is a method of embedding tools typically found within learning management systems—everything from phone directories for teachers to instant messaging applications to social networking functions to facilitate teacher and student collaboration. The Octane tools will be available in select FLVS courses, both in the versions sold to out-of-state online providers, and the versions delivered to Florida public school students.
So far, already-developed tools include a lesson-rating feature that will allow Florida Virtual to collect data on course effectiveness, and an “Octane boost” feature that will link keywords in online content to other online resources outside of the FLVS realm. For example, in an algebra module displayed last night, concepts were linked to video tutorials from the increasingly well-known Khan Academy collection.
Florida Virtual officials said many of the details of which tools will be used in what courses are still being worked out, and will become clearer during the coming months, but that it was likely implementation would start with core academic courses such as algebra and geometry.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.