Sunday, September 9, 2007

Virtual Schooling: The Way of the Future?

What if students did not have to go to class everyday? What if they got to wake up when they wanted and not have to worry about leaving thirty minutes early to make sure to get a seat on the bus? What if they never set-foot in a high school classroom and still managed to graduate?

Online classes are not all that unfamiliar to students at major universities; however, until recently they were almost unheard of in the K-12 levels of education according to a Yahoo NEWS article "Virtual Schooling Growing at K-12 level":

Online learning is used as an alternative for summer school and for students who
need remedial help, are disabled, being home schooled or suspended for
behavioral problems. It also can help avoid overcrowding in traditional
classrooms and provide courses that local schools, often rural or inner-city, do
not offer.

A new form of education, Virtual schooling, is steadily growing in popularity, particularly in Florida where Florida Virtual has become “one of the nation’s largest schools”. For students who like to work at their own pace this is the place to be; here students interact with teachers online using e-mail and other online media.

Interacting online is seen as a positive social experience for individuals who believe that children should be “socialized in the world they live in”. Opposition to the idea of online education believes that face-to-face social interaction is essential to the full development of a child.

It would be ignorant to completely ignore the fact that this world continues to increase reliance on the Internet. It would also be equally ignorant to phase out face-to-face interaction. I believe a balance needs to be found for both situations. In this age a child should not graduate high school without having been exposed to computers and the Internet; however, relying only on the Internet strips children of beneficial experiences one can only find inside the non-virtual classroom.


Asha said...

Online college courses are one thing, but virtual grade level schooling is just too much. I firmly believe that social interaction is necessary for the full development of a child and it should not be traded so that children can wake up late and do their work whenever they please. At school is where people first learn to interact with others, where children become exposed to different environments and people, and where you can build lasting relationships and create fond memories. Not only do I think virtual schooling will create a lazy society, but I suppose we will be a bunch of robotic humans who can't communicate with one another.

Maybe I am being a little extreme. I do, however, understand the benefits of alleviating overcrowding in schools, providing opportunities for the disabled and/or remedial, and offering additional classes because they are unavailable. I actually think it is a great idea for people who have specific learning disabilities, etc. I just don't think it should be the way of the future. I think it should remain an alternative.

As a college senior, I am having trouble completing an independent study course that I have been alloted nine months to complete. Maybe it is my lack of self-discipline because I have grown accustomed to teachers harassing me about deadlines? Or maybe it's just that I value and prefer physical interaction? If this is the type of world we are moving toward, we must find a balance.

Gentry said...

Using technology in the classroom has become the next big thing in schools. In middle school, my class piloted laptops that were used to complete exercises on different software and online. This concept is not a new thing, and it is not surprising to me that there is a move to bring classes online.

However, I agree with Nina that there needs to be a balance. Children are socialized at school to participate in society. In order for this to take place, children need face-to-face interaction with other children and people in leadership roles like teachers. The internet does provide some exciting new possibilities for teaching. As we have seen in college (esp. in Dr. Sweetser’s case), being able to contact your professor straight away through email or instant messenger can provide insight into homework or other outside classroom activities adding to the learning experience inside the classroom. Plus, the internet can connect students with people who have more expertise in subject areas than their teachers do.

Having a class solely online can be frustrating, and I know many people have a hard time doing well in them, both in high school and college. Many times the class gets pushed aside until the person has time or an assignment is due causing work to be done in a hurry or not completed. I am not sure if I agree with moving whole classes online, but I do believe that teachers need to use the resources available and the internet is one of those great resources.

LEL said...

I love the idea of giving students an opportunity to chat with and learn from students across the country or even world! But I agre with Asha and Gentry, face to face interaction is important for students.

Wouldn't it be awesome though as a high school senior to be taking this social media class with all of us virtually as a high school elective?!?

We can remember a life with limited internet and still using a card catalogue in the library, but my 16 year old sister can't. I would love to have that generation's input in this class.

k.strate said...

I firmly believe nothing is as important as face-to-face interaction. Yes, I am continually fascinated by all the new technologies available, but we must draw the line somewhere.

I think by putting mass numbers of children in online schools we are doing them a disservice, and we are socially handicapping them. Schools are where kids learn how to interact, to solve conflicts, to ask questions, and to form their own opinions. I believe internet schools would alleviate chances for students to show their individuality and their character.

Of course, cool and funky avatars might show a little personality flare, but, if they are relating through the avatar on a day-to-day basis, I believe children will lose their sense of self.

Virtual schooling should never become the way of the future. Kids should have the memory of trading their PB&J for a turkey sandwich- not trading a USB cable for a jump drive.