SCIL as a Case Study

Stephen Harris


This chapter presents a case study of the evolving role of the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning, a unit of Northern Beaches Christian School, in the provision of K–12 online learning. It describes development of the school’s model of online and blended learning and the expansion of its educational role in New South Wales. The chapter also explains how state-level policy issues have limited growth of online programs in Australia.

Discussion Questions

1. Although several Australian states now permit online learning in schools, few bricks-and-mortar schools have taken advantage of this opportunity. Based on the chapter and other sources, why do you think this is the case?

2. State requirements for on-site learning in residential schools led the author's school to develop a unique educational approach, in which a teacher acts both as course developer and instructor, and usually teaches both the online and face-to-face versions of a course. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?

3. SCIL has found that in about 75% of the cases, students scored higher in the online version than in the on-site version of the course. What are some factors that might help explain this?

4. Compare and contrast the understandings of the term "blended learning" in the Australian and U. S.contexts.

5. If the SCIL program was located in the U. S., which blended learning model(s) would it fall under, based on the definitions in Additional Resources?

Additional Resources

Blended learning model definitions. Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.

Transnational Appraisal of Virtual School and College Provision (VISCED)


Australian Government. (2007). The School of the Air and remote learning. Parkes, Australia: Author. Retrieved from http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/school-of-theair

Australian Sports Commission. (2012). University network. Bruce, Australia: Author. Retrieved from http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/athlete_career_and_education/university_network

Bacsich, P., & Bristow, S. F. (2012, September). International research into K–12 online learning. In M. K. Barbour (Ed.), Virtual school MOOC: Introduction to K–12 online learning research (10 September–07 October 2012). Retrieved from http://virtualschoolmooc.wikispaces.com/international

Education Services Australia. (2013). Annual report 2012–2013. Retrieved from http://www.esa.edu.au/sites/default/files/files/ESA-Annual-Report-2012-13-low-res.pdf

Government of South Australia. (2011). External education. Retrieved from http://www.sa.gov.au/subject/Education%2C+skills+and+learning/Schools/Alternative+schooling/External+education

Harris, S. (2005). Online learning in senior secondary school education: Practice, pedagogy and possibilities. Sydney: Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning. Retrieved from http://scil.com.au/documents/nbcs-mq-report.pdf

Harris, S. (2006, June). Common factors influencing success in the online environment. Sydney: Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning. Retrieved from http://scil.com.au/documents/scil_success_online.pdf

International Association of K–12 Online Learning. (2011). iNACOL national standards for quality online courses. Vienna, VA: Author. Retrieved from http://www.inacol.org/research/nationalstandards

New South Wales Board of Studies. (2012a). Registered and accredited individual non-government schools (NSW) manual. Sydney: Author. Retrieved from http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/manuals/pdf_doc/reg-accred-individ-non-gov-manual-12.pdf

New South Wales Board of Studies NSW. (2012b). Understanding HSC results. Sydney: Author. Retrieved from http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/hsc-results

Northern Beaches Christian School. (2012a). HSC learn online. Sydney: Author. Retrieved from http://hsconline.nsw.edu.au

Northern Beaches Christian School. (2012b). Learn.NBCS. Sydney: Author. Retrieved from http://learn.nbcs.nsw.edu.au

Northern Beaches Christian School. (2012c). PETE: The virtual learning environment for primary students at NBCS. Sydney: Author. Retrieved from http://pete.nbcs.nsw.edu.au

OPTUS. (2003). Rural education gets the picture. Retrieved from http://www.optus.com.au/aboutoptus/About+Optus/Media+Centre/Media+Releases/2003/Rural+education+gets+the+picture

Queensland University of Technology. (2012). Manual of policies and procedures. Chapter C, 6.3 blended learning. Brisbane: Author. Retrieved from http://www.mopp.qut.edu.au/C/C_06_03.jsp#C_06_03.03.mdoc

Staker, H., & Horn, M. B. (2012, May). Classifying K–12 blended learning. San Madro, CA: Innosight Institute. Retrieved from