What they are really saying: An analysis of the messages in full-time virtual school television-length advertisements

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Virtual school, cyber school, commercials, cultural studies


Virtual schooling in America is a complex notion, one riddled with simultaneous claims of provenance coupled with poor achievement results when compared to other forms of schooling. Recruitment practices for virtual schools, specifically available television-length advertisements from a national list of fully online schools, comprised a data set around which this study revolved. We examined how virtual school television-length advertisements represented or misrepresented their approach to schooling by utilizing a cultural studies technique of performing preferred, negotiated, and oppositional readings. Qualitative analysis—including an independent interrater process—led to findings that often directly contradicted the messages present in the television-length advertisements, as well as currently available research on the performance and practices of virtual schools. Thus, virtual schools should consider the manner in which race, student performance, and teacher quality are portrayed in the teaching, learning, and collaboration of their television-length advertisement recruitment efforts.


This article was published with support from the Open Access Publishing Fund administered through the University of Arkansas Libraries.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.