One real life application that will keep kiddos coming and various sources of sustaining revenue coming (text book companies, waivers paid by the local districts for open enrolled kids etc.) could be graduation by passing the 10th grade soon to be exit exams.
It's great payoff for kids and without something like it, like every online and real community, folks will fade as their interest and investment levels do. With it, kids, parents, real time communities, colleges, and business all have an interest. Democracy itself depends on it too.
Also there is something in the long view to think about. If you want to help kids, understanding that they are only kids for a window of time is important. Not every kid needs to become a teacher or stay in the environment once goals are reached. Helping kids means letting them go too. Preparing kids is a better term.
I think you are right Lukkucairi, a decision of what is the goal and who is the target is a great way to begin deciding everything else from spaces to content.
My thought is that it is a new place to learn, a school the likes of which has not been created yet. (There just aren't many of merit out there and the ones that are graduating kids are not addressing new basic standards, as yet unwritten or decided, necessary for the electronic society.)
Other things of possible importance would be licensed teachers willing to present content and evaluate progress. Laws are different in different states, but "highly qualified" (fed term) staff on board would lend some weight. This is not to say that every lesson demo must be done by a licensed teacher in a space like this quite the opposite.
To win something like this wouldn't it be cool to say that the environment meets all current standards and surpasses them in relevance. (And prove it.) If that could be done, the bigger picture is really huge.
If serious impact is desired bridging old and new school will be important for legitimacy. And once legitimacy is achieved then changing the rules for things like core subjects, licensing, and other fancy detail stuff will be easier.
This could be the start of the new education or it could be just another social network. One way to ensure it doesn't make a dent is to ignore current expectations. I am not saying adhere to them solely, ( no way!) but something more, exceed them. Blow them out of the water entirely. It can be done.
I suggested reaching out to NHL kids or kids in other existing groups to be starting students. That could address every income and cultural bracket. And since those kids have already shown that they can invest, getting proven result might be easier.
If targets are to be those in direst need right off finding and persuading them to participate is going to take a heck of a lot more than free stuff. Unless the target population has outside incentive (like incarcerated youth).
As for using the net and avoiding the extremes. It has been dabbled to varying effect; however, it is not common as access in school to most places where communication is permitted is still blocked. It's being challenged but it won't likely change before due dates for proposals.
Here is one that worked well:
Blogs used to journal and explore and collaborate on projects relating to Romeo and Juliet. Project assignment guidelines provided enough restrictions to avoid the morass and enough freedom to avoid stifling creativity.
Still as access was limited, replication and full application was and will be severely limited. The ORG still passed filters because of its suffix. That will be needed unless a purely homeschooled population is the target.
Everything is dependent on the who and what.
Forgive me now. You have no idea how much time it will save.