Sample Business Plan on Distance Learning in High Schools

Distance Learning in High Schools

Goals

The objective of this strategic plan is to boost learning among students without access to learning institutions caused by physical disabilities. The problem faced by students with physical disabilities regarding their access to education cannot be ignored since students with disabilities form a large percentage of the total students’ population (Simonson & Zvacek, 2014). To facilitate their effective learning, each student needs to have access to a personal computer to enable him/her study while still at home. The plan aims at availing quality education to students with physical challenges that prevent them from attending normal classes. To achieve this purpose, the program intends to procure enough computers that will facilitate distance learning for the targeted group. The specific objectives of this plan are to:

  1. Procure 1000 laptops to be used by students and teachers
  2. Teach students on the use of the laptops
  3. Train teachers involved in teaching such students
  4. Establish a secure infrastructure

Audience

The program targets 400 high school students with physical disabilities that cost them their inability to attend classes like other students. To qualify for a laptop under the program, a student must be physically challenged and thus unable to physically attend classes. Each learner will have a private laptop that will be retained by the individual scholar for use in schoolwork. However, the disability should not be severe as to prevent the student from using the computer. Students with severe disabilities that deny them the ability to use a computer will be excluded from this program.

Technology Infrastructure

For the program to achieve its objectives of ensuring effective learning for students with various physical challenges, a technological infrastructure must be established. The program must engage technology engineers to establish a reliable infrastructure for effective distance teaching (Moore & Kearsley, 2011). The computers need to be installed with special programs that facilitate easy learning by the students. The options available for the company include but not limited to the ones listed hereafter:

  1. Procuring reliable all inclusive devices from Apple company
  2. Making arrangements with the vendor to provide repair and support services
  3. Setting up a fast wireless network to allow easy communication
  4. Training all the stakeholders on the effective use of the devices
  5. Establishing a security framework for the infrastructure

Staffing

The program recognizes the fact that the smooth running of the program requires recruitment of new teachers with the ability to teach the students via the IT technology. The teachers need to be trained in distance learning since most teachers are only conversant with classroom teaching. In addition to hiring new tutors, the infrastructure needs to be protected in order to ensure that the quality of learning is not compromised. This calls for the recruitment of IT experts with the necessary skills in the field of infrastructure security management (Mupinga, 2005). The program will recruit six IT experts who will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the infrastructure is secure. The program also reckons the fact that the computers may require repair from time to time and in that regard, it seeks to recruit an additional five computer repairers who will be charged with the responsibility of repairing computers when necessary. Assigning each student with a teacher could be expensive since it would require the recruitment of 400 teachers. In light of this fact, the program will retain a student- teacher ratio of 2:1 where a single teacher shall attend to two students. In line with the intended ratio, the program shall recruit 200 teachers who will be trained in the effective use of IT in distance learning.

Training

Distance learning requires outstanding knowledge on the basic computer programs such as Microsoft word, excel and the internet by both teachers and the students (Moore & Kearsley, 2011). The program shall educate teachers on the listed programs and then cause them to pass the knowledge acquired to learners. Each teacher shall be provided with a laptop and trained on software and hardware basics to equip them with the knowledge to effectively handle the task. Training of teachers should take a relatively shorter period, say 1 month, than students’ training since teachers are in a better position to grasp faster than the students are. After the training, each teacher shall be provided with a personal laptop, which s/he will use to train the students. Training the students may take a longer period than training teachers may because the target students are physically challenged hence they may find difficulties when handling the task. The students’ training will be student centered whereby each student shall be trained based on his/her personal abilities. Training shall also be afforded to other stakeholders such as the IT and computer experts hired to maintain the security of the infrastructure. The program shall collaborate with the vendor to ensure that effective training is afforded to the IT experts.

Assessment

The plan is slated to implement the one on one laptop program in January 2017 after which all the necessary preparations will have been made. By this time, all the stakeholders involved in the program will have been trained on their roles in the program. The program shall, however, assess the viability of the plan by initiating a pilot distance learning in late 2016 whereby 50 students will be randomly selected from among those who will have received the training. The selected students shall be given a laptop each and assigned a trained teacher. Assessments as to the success of the program shall be based on the 50 students and will be accomplished by the program director in collaboration with the instructors. Once the program is fully implemented in early 2017, each student’s performance shall be assessed to gain insight on their improved abilities following the one on one laptop program. The assessment shall be achieved through giving activities at the end of each lesson and the students’ performance on such activities shall be used as an assessment tool.

Implementation schedule

August 2015-July 2016

Throughout this period, the program managers shall be involved in securing funds for the procurement of laptops and to train officers involved in the program. Due to the hefty amounts of money required by the program, program managers must actively engage various agencies throughout the period to ensure that the amount is secured. The money obtained shall be used to procure 1000 laptops, of which 600 shall be assigned to teachers and students after the training. Out of the remaining 400 computers, some will be given to other staff involved in the program such as the program coordinator while the rest shall be stored to facilitate replacement of faulty ones. The funds shall be obtained from donors who will include the government, well wishers, and philanthropic companies.

August 2016-December 2016

During this period, training of teachers and students shall take place whereby teachers shall be trained first then be used to train students on the essentials of distance learning. In this period, pilot distance learning shall be done on 50 students to test the effectiveness of the plan.

January 2017

This period will involve actual implementation of the project whereby all students shall be given personal laptops ready to start the learning process. Teachers shall be expected to commence the process in January 2017 and make the constant appraisal of their students give feedback on the outcomes.

Risk factors

The program shall face a number of setbacks and drawbacks in its initial stages since it is a new program. One of the major challenges that the program is set to face is the problem of cyber crime that has been compounded by the latest invention of the internet (Moore, 2013). In this regard, students may use the laptops assigned for the study to cause harm or make threats of harm to other students. Cyber crimes are difficult to mitigate since the identity of the perpetrator is masked thus the program must devise ways to prevent this from occurring. Secondly, the program expects to raise huge amounts of funds through charity and donations. The program’s funds are therefore not guaranteed, and it may end up suffering from shortages of finances and hence fail to accomplish its primary goal of ensuring that each student has his/her personal laptop. Security of the devices is yet another challenge that may disrupt the implementation of this strategic plan. Given that the students are allowed to retain the laptops at home, the devices may be stolen or even damaged causing disruption in the learning process. Finally, research indicates that employees are naturally opposed to changes either due to fear of losing their jobs or due to the challenges presented by such changes (Beldarrain, 2006). In implementing this program, this problem may present itself since teachers may be reluctant in embracing the changes.

References

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance education, 27(2), 139-153.

Moore, M. G. (Ed.). (2013). Handbook of distance education. London: Routledge.

Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2011). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Mupinga, D. M. (2005). Distance education in high schools: Benefits, challenges, and suggestions. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 78(3), 105-109.

Simonson, M., & Zvacek, S. (2014). Teaching and learning at a distance. North Carolina: Information Age Pub.