A Case Study of an Online Private School

John Smallwood, Jennifer Reaburn, and Stephen Baker


This paper studies the development of one private online school in Canada, Virtual High School (Ontario) from its inception in the mid-1990s to the present day. Its authors document the philosophy, growth, and operations of this school’s successful education model, which is asynchronous, individualized, flexible, and student-centered.

Discussion Questions

1. What are the key characteristics of an asynchronous online school, and what student characteristics are best suited to such a school?

2. What kinds of students does this private school enroll, and how does it work to meet their needs and expectations?

3. How does the school seek to ensure quality during its curricular development process?

4. How has the school used features of its LMS to add self-assessment, formative assessment, and summative assessment to its courses?

5. What actions does the Virtual High School take to reduce plagiarism? What are some others steps that might be taken to reduce plagiarism in online courses?

Additional Resources

Desire2Learn. (n.d.). More than an LMS – Desire2Learn – Transforming learning. Retrieved from http://www.desire2learn.com

Hekademia (2014-2015). Rubrics part 1, 2, 3 & 4 (blog postings). Retrieved from
- http://www.hekademia.com/blog-post.php?p=98
- http://www.hekademia.com/blog-post.php?p=124
- http://www.hekademia.com/blog-post.php?p=206
- http://www.hekademia.com/blog-post.php?p=362

Laurel Springs School. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from http://www.laurelsprings.com/aboutus

Virtual High School (n.d.). Virtual High School (Ontario). Retrieved from


Bennett, P. (2012). The sky has limits: Online learning in Canadian K–12 public education. Toronto: Society for Quality Education. Retrieved from

Education Act. Government of Ontario, R.S.O. (1990).

Hall, R. (1997). Guided surfing: Development and assessment of a World Wide Web interface for an undergraduate psychology class. A paper presented at the North American Web-Based Learning Conference Series, Shortening the Distance to Education Conference, Fredericton, NB.
Retrieved from http://www.uvm.edu/~hag/naweb97/papers/hall.html

Nagel, D. (2010, June 29). Report: Online learning nearly doubles among high school students. T.H.E. Journal. Retrieved from http://www.icyte.com/system/snapshots/fs1/c/e/d/f/cedf157c95d2af66dd55f557d4c82d3de1f115f9/index.html

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2010). Growing success: Assessment, evaluation, and reporting in Ontario schools. Toronto: Queen’s Printing for Ontario.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2012). Private elementary and secondary schools. Toronto: Queen’s Printing for Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/privsch/index.html

WHOis.com. (n.d.-a). WHOis.com huronweb.com. Author. Retrieved from http://www.whois.com/whois/huronweb.com

WHOis.com. (n.d.-b). WHOis.com virtualhighschool.com. Author. Retrieved from http://www.whois.com/whois/virtualhighschool.com