Legislature endorses more cyber classes: They’re shiny and new but are they effective with k-12 students?

computer (Medium)A teenage neighbor told me that he intended to be among the first in line for the new iPad that made its debut a few weeks ago. Since he already owned an iPad, I asked if the new model offered some innovation that he needed.

“I don’t know,” he told me, “but I know it’s better than what I’ve got.”

That seems to be the attitude of policymakers toward online learning, including some in the Georgia Legislature, which approved a new law pushing cyber high school courses:

Senate Bill 289 states: The State Board of Education shall establish rules and regulations to maximize the number of students, beginning with students entering ninth grade in the 2014-2015 school year, who complete prior to graduation at least one course containing online learning….A local school system shall not prohibit any student from taking a course through the Georgia Virtual School, regardless of whether the school in which the student is enrolled offers the same course.

Cybereducation is shiny and new. It’s market-driven and it represents the future.

But is it effective?

“There’s very little empirical research out there,” said Michael K. Barbour, a University of Georgia doctoral graduate who researches virtual learning at Wayne State University.

The positive research that has been done looked at adults or the earliest generation of virtual learners: bright, self-directed teens who went online to take tough courses their brick-and-mortar schools didn’t offer.

“Those students are equipped to do well in any learning environment,” Barbour said. “The second we put other kinds of students in that environment, they don’t do as well.”

Yet, all 50 states are expanding virtual options in k-12 education, and many, including Georgia, offer full-time online programs. With that expansion has come the arrival of private online providers, eager to enter the $600 billion k-12 market, typically as virtual charter schools.

A study by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado found that more than 30 percent of high school students took at least one online class. The study noted that virtual schools are the fastest-growing alternative to traditional schools, enrolling 200,000 full-time students.

But the study found little oversight or accountability. “Few rules, little supervision, many students and families who struggle, and an unacceptably large number of enrollees who won’t make it through to the end,” said report co-author Gene V. Glass, who urges financial audits of cyberschools to determine their actual per-student expenses, authentication of student work and accreditation of both part-time and full-time cyberschools.

Minnesota, which has tripled its full-time virtual high school enrollment, found that online students scored lower in state testing and dropped out of school at higher rates; a quarter of online seniors dropped out, compared to only 3 percent of their peers.

A study of Colorado’s full-time cyberstudents noted similar performance lags. Once in the virtual school, students scored lower on state reading exams, with scores declining the longer they were in the program.

An analysis by the I-News Network and Education News Colorado found that Colorado’s virtual high schools produced three times more dropouts than graduates, which was the exact reverse of the state average, in which there were three graduates for every dropout.

The online providers counter that the lower performance reflects the nature of their students, teens who struggled in traditional classrooms and came to them already behind. (However, that was not the case in Colorado where the students enrolling in online course were, on average, not trailing their peers in traditional classrooms.)

But these are the very students least served in the prevailing for-profit format of online education.

While the selling point in state capitols is that virtual education individualizes learning, Barbour said it’s actually the opposite. “Much of the for-profit programs are one-size-fits-all. There is a single database that all instruction and assessment are being drawn from,” he said. “Some students might have to do more or do less, but the actual method of learning and instruction is the same for all students.”

Barbour said some school districts have created their own focused online programs that work for struggling students by blending classroom teaching and technology-assisted learning. Such intense programs cost more to maintain than other online programs, so they are generally not part of the for-profit blueprint.

In some full-time virtual schools, teachers act as tutors and graders and provide little customized teaching, Barbour said. They don’t have much choice, given that some online teachers complain they’re expected to manage 250 high school students.

“At-risk students who are struggling in traditional environments,” he said, “are still going to require a lot of that one-on-one instruction in online programs.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

84 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

April 3rd, 2012
5:57 am

Cybereducation is shiny and new. It’s market-driven and it represents the future.

But is it effective?

Think of it like going to the gym. How many people have hundreds if not thousands of dollars of exercise equipment at home sitting used, then ended up paying for classes at a gym because they realized they needed the structure of being in a group to make them exercise?

If you’re motivated to learn, but the traditional brick and mortar building kills your motivation* this might be your thing. But if you’re already not motivated to learn, having no external structure is not likely to help.

(*I know; it’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to imagine any policies coming from Arne Duncan, Rod Paige and the like would have a negative affect on the classroom…they’re such “experts” after all, with UNQUESTIONED integrity to boot!)

Ronin

April 3rd, 2012
6:46 am

On line k-12 learning will potentially save money. As far as being more effective? That will depend on the student. For some, it will offer a much wider and custom designed curriculum, that some schools would not normally be able to offer. For others, virtual learning will lack the support that is needed to be effective.

concerned

April 3rd, 2012
6:51 am

Follow the money- it isn’t the savings to the district that is the real money. It is the money that investors will make. Someone at the AJC should investigate the money making that the Milliken Foundation and other hedge fund/ed reformers are experiencing. It would also be very interesting to see full transparency around the Ga legislature and lobbyists. ALEC.

mom3boys

April 3rd, 2012
7:17 am

Imagine…students who are disruptive to the learning environment choosing to stay home and complete online school instead. Imagine, students who fail a middle school class make it up the next semester online instead of AAP at 7:15…imagine, students removed from school no longer go to the alternative school and learn more bad tricks….this has the potential to be a beautiful thing.

Oh yeah…the “good” kids can get ahead, take classes not offered at their school, graduate early, take classes they are interested in, and open up their schedules for more electives….silly me, for a minute I forgot that some kids care about learning!

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

April 3rd, 2012
7:58 am

Efficacy in edutainment programming: What an interesting concept!

More to the Story

April 3rd, 2012
8:01 am

“While the selling point in state capitols is that virtual education individualizes learning, Barbour said it’s actually the opposite. “Much of the for-profit programs are one-size-fits-all. There is a single database that all instruction and assessment are being drawn from,” he said. “Some students might have to do more or do less, but the actual method of learning and instruction is the same for all students.”

Focus on this. It is NOT individualized. Don’t kid yourselves.

Derwood

April 3rd, 2012
8:03 am

I LOVE IT WHEN SOMEONE LIKE OUR ELECTED GEORGIA OFFICIALS LEGISLATE ON SUBJECTS THEY ARE VERY IGNORANT ABOUT. I BET THERE IS NOT AN ELECTED OFFICAL, EXCLUSING ANY WHO TAUGHT OR IS NOW TEACHING, COULD STAY IN A CLASS ROOM 3 CONTINIOUS HOURS.

teacher for life

April 3rd, 2012
8:03 am

I am 100% for online learning for students and teachers. Education is moving to the use of computers. Ten years from now people will wonder why kids carried around 50 pounds of textbooks to school. However, the state should not be legislating education from the gold dome. Why make a rule such as making all high school students take an online course. It fits for some kids and some schools but doesn’t make sense for others. Let the market and education move forward naturally.

renprep mom

April 3rd, 2012
8:08 am

I think the biggest issue is how education has become one of the biggest business’s around. Technology is great. And there is nothing to say that having students experience online learning is not beneficial. But to totally immerse students in this learning environment could have an astounding detrimental effect years down the line. Where is the social interaction? Where is the learning to work with others in group settings? Where do the lessons in communicating come in?

We have to stop relying on these quick fixes and easy outs. Let technology serve its purpose: a supplement to quality classroom instruction.

bootney farnsworth

April 3rd, 2012
8:30 am

in a word, no.

it’s long been known the on-line is a very effective teaching tool for a very specific subset of students.

but the issue here isn’t if we can teach these kids, the issue is
what steps can the legislature take to avoid having to deal with
the real issues existing in education

bootney farnsworth

April 3rd, 2012
8:33 am

anyone who thinks our elected morons actually care about the quality of education here – I got a bridge to sell you.

Roach

April 3rd, 2012
9:00 am

Whose buddy runs a company supplying these services? That’s the only question. Just like in Alabama, when the governor’s brother bought a machine that made driver’s licenses in a certain, non-standard size, and then the state government changed the format for driver’s licenses, to match those specs. Same DEAL.

Jessica

April 3rd, 2012
9:08 am

This isn’t exactly a brand new idea. Online classes have been available to college students and homeschoolers for over a decade. The question is not whether online school can work — that has been proven already — but whether or not the STATE can effectively implement it as a public school option.

Just like traditional public school, virtual public school will eventually get worked over by lawmakers, bureaucrats, and the self-interested education establishment. The classes will be stripped of innovation, while the administration of the program will become unnecessarily complex and costly.

teacher

April 3rd, 2012
9:20 am

You guys do realize that virtual school is very hard. It’s for the best of the best. The avg student will flop. The SPED student will not make it. Virtual School is for the student that is self-motivated and driven. I’m afraid the Gov.t has gotten true Virtual School and “credit recovery” online course confused. The two are no where near the same. One is fine dining, and the other is fast food.

C Jae of EAV

April 3rd, 2012
9:23 am

@Roach 04/03 9:00am – Your observations have capture my primary thought. Follow the money on this one. There is often alot of excess built into public education centric technology contracts.

Beverly Fraud

April 3rd, 2012
9:24 am

Why not combine an idea like Dr. Trotter’s “Center for Non-Learning” with online training?

You want to be CHRONICALLY or SEVERELY disruptive?

Here are your two, your ONLY two choices:

A) engage yourself in online learning

B) engage yourself in SITTING IDLY BY, because that’s what you are training yourself to do WITHOUT education.

One would think MOST disruptive students might find learning WORTH A TRY give those two, and ONLY those two options.

At the VERY least, they aren’t destroying the sanctity of the regular classroom learning environment. Again; are you “Waiting for Superman?”

Then REMOVE THE KRYPTONITE!

And at best, they might actually embrace a well designed program that “meets them where they are” educationally and allow for incremental improvement.

What's Really Going On

April 3rd, 2012
9:24 am

@Beverly Fraud 5:57am — I love your gym analogy.. it’s spot on!

As for the general point about online learning, I have no issues with it, and know that for some, it can work very well, same as every other “fix” for our education system. There is no single remedy that fixes everything with the level of expediency that is needed for our children. Personally I’ve used various online learning options as enrichment for my children at home who are average to above average learners, which in my book doesn’t mean they are geniuses in training, rather we simply expose them to a good bit of core subject material (math and reading) at home so they are better prepared when they get to it in school.

I think that a great way to use online learning (assuming it was financially feasible) was as a way to stem summer learning loss that occurs for most students. There are programs out there that are decent enough to help students review what they covered the prior year while also getting them prepared for the upcoming year. For anyone who has looked for real academic enrichment in the summer months, you know that the vast majority of it is fluff and surface level learning with no real accountability as to whether the kids are learning anything (save for the likes of the learning centers such as Kumon, Sylvan, etc..) Some of the online programs have great reports that you can review to gauge progress and mastery of certain concepts.

Let’s say you have a 3rd grader who is going to 4th.. the child’s 3rd grade teacher could suggest a sequence of online learning modules/activities that helps to shore up what were some of the child’s weak areas while in their class in the prior year, and then there could be a set of modules that the 4th grade team at the student’s school has identified for completion over the summer as well. Of course there are no guarantees that all children will be made to do the work by their parents, and then there’s the issue where a few may not have ready access to a computer, however in those cases, there’s the local library, and maybe a certain school could be set up to serve as neighborhood cyber center over the summer for students who lack the technology to come in and work on their online assignments. Using online learning in this way will simply make a little more efficient the work that many of us already do each summer by buying workbooks and such and trying to cobble together a “curriculum” for our kids so they are prepared in the fall.

Personally speaking, I’d be willing to pay a nominal fee for such learning, assuming it’s quality and made to be fun and engaging for the students. So if any of you Cyber learning companies are reading this post this may be something that you want to consider if you do not already have anything in place– just a nominally priced ($0-50) summer learning package. No access to tutors needed, just great online learning activities and good reports that I can view as a parent to gauge process. If you can set it up so that it’s easy to track standards that are being mastered, that would be great. And by standards, I mean the GPS, Common core, and other more rigorous standards as well.

Anyway.. just my 2 cents

Shar

April 3rd, 2012
9:25 am

While it seems apparent that the Legislature pushed this through to justify yet more cuts to the education budget and to swing funds to their corporate sponsors, it is true that distance learning has been the standard in remote areas for a long time, first through mail and telephone and then online.

It has worked well in the Canadian Far North, parts of Alaska and the Australian Outback. However, it is highly dependent on supervisory (parental, in most cases) insistence and assistance.

I don’t know if that element will be available in every home in Georgia. In those where it is not, this will fail.

Mary Elizabeth

April 3rd, 2012
9:25 am

“An analysis by the I-News Network and Education News Colorado found that Colorado’s virtual high schools produced three times more dropouts than graduates, which was the exact reverse of the state average, in which there were three graduates for every dropout.”
================================================

Although we now exist in a computer, technological age, not to understand another motive – other than oncoming technology for online instruction – is to put one’s “head in the sand.” There is money to be had in online instruction, just as there money to be had through charter schools – eventually. And, more than that – there is an ideological rightwing agenda, in our nation, to dismantle government programs in general – from public schools to government-sponsored universal health care. The demonization of the “government” is undercurrent and stealthy, and it is being paid for by those of great power and wealth who have a vested self-interest in the private market, and in undercutting the public sector of our nation.

Please read “Robert’s Story,” from my personal blog. Robert impacted me more than any other student in my 35 years of teaching in public schools. You will learn from Robert’s story how a “flesh and blood” teacher was the only reason Robert attained a high school diploma at age 20 – almost age 21 – when he read on an elementary level. With online instruction, Robert would have been a high school drop-out.

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/roberts-story-love-never-fails/

d

April 3rd, 2012
9:30 am

I see quite a few of my students who are taking online courses for one reason or another (usually, however, to make up a class that they had previously failed). The feedback I get – they’re super easy. I question some students about the material, and they often cannot give correct responses. Personally, I would like to see the General Assembly insist that members of any education-related committee be filled only by former educators who know how this will work in practice – and that committee should work closely with current educators (and heck, maybe even their professional associations) to understand the true impact of legislation before it becomes law. People like Chip Rogers need to keep their hands off of Title 20 because, frankly, he doesn’t have a clue.

teacher

April 3rd, 2012
9:31 am

Really MARY…. you want to blame the right wing for trying to ruin government schools. Be reminded it’s the left that keeps rewriting history to make itself feel better.

catlady

April 3rd, 2012
9:38 am

I am familiar with the “online teaching” that is used with our disruptive kids at the alternative school. It is a complete joke. The kids are presented material they cannot read, and then take a test. If they don’t make 80, they go back and take the test again. The “teacher’ (read person who keeps them from hurting each other) can release the test for them even if the computer locks down because they have failed it 3 times in a row.

While I am sure there are students for whom this works, I would guess 80% of our Georgia students would not get a thing out of it. Maybe more would be successful in AECC (Affluent East Cobb County).

Follow the money. As in Reading First, you will probably see a close, personal relationship pop up somewhere between legislator(s) and these companies.

d

April 3rd, 2012
9:38 am

@teacher – obviously you haven’t seen SB426 (which thankfully did not become law) sponsored by the conservatives.

Chuckles

April 3rd, 2012
9:41 am

Instead of online classes using the latest technology lets start a conversation about technology in the classroom. The idea that a tablet can replace 20lbs of text books is a no brainer . The tablets are interactive, text is not. Tablets are cheap, text books are not. These concepts can change education and save money doing it. I believe you ought to receive a tablet in K12 preloaded with all the books you will ever need. The whole world at the tip of your finger.

Tony

April 3rd, 2012
9:50 am

Bad Idea

April 3rd, 2012
9:51 am

This is a really bad idea.
The best teacher is a human one.
No machine or online program can replace a human being.
can’t be done.
It’s a dumb idea.

Hillbilly D

April 3rd, 2012
9:52 am

While cyber classes have their place, this is basically the latest fad. Somebody will make a whole lot of money out of it, though.

And if cyber learning ever does become the main focus, the licenses will just increase to the cost of the books, so there won’t be much in the way of money savings.

fred

April 3rd, 2012
9:54 am

I taught a combined on line / in class math class about 8 years ago and had mixed results depending on the level of buy in from the students. In one class I had 28 8th graders taking pre algebra. 21 of those students finished pre algebra and algebra in one year (2 years of math in one year), passed the classes and the state exams, 3 passed the pre algebra state exam (stayed on track with their class) 1 failed the class and 3 passes pre algebra, algebra and geometry ( 3 years of math in one, and they all scored near perfect on the state exam). I have not kept up wit any of those students since I moved to a different district, but I would love to know how they fared in their future math courses compared to traditional students. The next year I taught a group of 22 students, only 1 who had previously passed a state exam. 10 of those students passed the exam that year. I was very pleased.
In my current school we have 8 students taking online AP classes. Their grades are abysmal. I think there are too many factors involved to be blindly in favor or against on line learning. Personally I like teaching the mixed classes like I did in the past. Just my humble opinion.

Tony

April 3rd, 2012
9:58 am

Mary Elizabeth

April 3rd, 2012
9:58 am

@teacher, 9:31 am

“Really MARY…. you want to blame the right wing for trying to ruin government schools. Be reminded it’s the left that keeps rewriting history to make itself feel better.”
====================================================

I think we should not identify so personally with “rightwing” or “the left” but simply see – without denial – what is happening in, and to, our nation today. Public schools need to be sustained, improved, and funded properly. Public schools in Georgia have been undercut by four billion dollars in the last decade, and much of that was before the Great Recession. This is not right either for the students or the teachers in Georgia, and it has had a purpose behind it other than the balancing of the budget.

Please read about the agenda of ALEC, to be more informed regarding this rightwing ideological movement that has been slowly, but steadily, unfolding – and growing in momentum – within our nation in the past four decades. Or, read Russ Baker’s book, “Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America.” Baker’s book is about much more than the Bush family. It is about the financial forces and powers in our nation and how they have shaped the America that both you and I are living today. You can read its first pages on http://www.Amazon.com to preview its contents for yourself. You do not have to agree with all of the author’s contentions to grow in your understanding of these political and financial forces. We are living in a very different America than the one created and intended by our Founding Fathers, I might add.

http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/78448237?access_key=key-a6hdjq8v38luteku97w

Digger

April 3rd, 2012
10:00 am

Electricity was a fad. The Beatles were a fad. Who knows? Any port in a storm.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 3rd, 2012
10:22 am

This bill is good for the students of Georgia.

Beverly Fraud

April 3rd, 2012
10:26 am

“Public schools need to be sustained, improved, and funded properly.”

What do you say Mary Elizabeth, to those who say the funds that have been allocated have been OBSCENELY wasted?

You don’t have to be a fan of ALEC to legitimately ask if the public schools need to be DRASTICALLY altered.

Ron F.

April 3rd, 2012
10:31 am

catlady: must be the infamous A+ program, AKA Google to Graduate. The actual coursework is tough in some classes, but the kids have learned how to look up as many answers as possible without reading the learning units. Which is one problem I see with online courses. How do you keep kids accountable for actually doing the work themselves? That and the fact that “individualized” means every individual take the individual class the individual needs to take and completes the same coursework as every other individual who takes the class on his or her individual schedule…

For successful students, who are self-motivated, the online courses might be as good as regular classroom instruction. My oldest is thinking about it because he gets frustrated with the slower pace of learning in some of his classes. He’d be an ideal candidate. The kids who just want to pass a class to graduate…not such a good idea for them.

Ron F.

April 3rd, 2012
10:35 am

“You don’t have to be a fan of ALEC to legitimately ask if the public schools need to be DRASTICALLY altered.”

No, but you have to be careful of dealing with the devil also. ALEC is one example of how corporate entities can benefit from unhappiness and discord. Rev it up and get people good and mad and then miraculously be there to point them in the right direction. The companies get rich and we get left holding the bag when they don’t deliver what they promise.

Negatory to the Lowest Common Denominator

April 3rd, 2012
10:35 am

The effectiveness of online courses depends on the subject and the teacher, for example math, physics and science in general are subjects that come across very well in the online environment. Check out the khanacademy dot com, self motivated students are advancing well beyond their brick and mortar teachers by working their way through the 12 or so minute lectures and exercises on this site. Other subjects in the liberal arts may not translate well to the online world because so much is subjective and dependent on the point of view of the instructor. The good thing about online and especially about the khan academy is that self motivated students who want to learn can do so without the constant interruptions of the public school environment, online allows students to learn at their own pace, and despite the disaster that our schools have become over the last couple decades.

Negatory to the Lowest Common Denominator

April 3rd, 2012
10:42 am

I should add that the khan academy is absolutely free, and does not offer any type of course credit. It is not a replacement for public and/or private schools, rather it is a learning alternative available for those who want to learn, not those who must be forced to learn against their will.

Inman Park Boy

April 3rd, 2012
10:42 am

“Negatory” is absolutely correct. Any of you who havent checked out Khanacademy.org should do so, especially if you have students struggling with math. Also, its is FREE!

dc

April 3rd, 2012
10:45 am

There are so many teachers who really are not able to stand up and teach a lesson…whether because of their style, the fact that they don’t understand the material themselves, or many other reasons. It’s always seemed to me that showing students a video from an educator who is in fact gifted in this way, and having the local teacher there to assist with questions and in class lessons, could be a good combination.

Similar to how the hugely effective churches have started using video projection for their sermons, while having local pastors to take care of individual needs.

Bernie

April 3rd, 2012
10:52 am

Give us anything!, anything but never, never,ever, ever allow the little Black and White Boys & Girls to share in a learning process harmoniously in a classroom setting, that would be too much like………… PROGRESS!

Beverly Fraud

April 3rd, 2012
11:17 am

“Rev it up and get people good and mad and then miraculously be there to point them in the right direction”

It’s not that there isn’t PLENTY to get mad about Ron F. The sad thing is, people have been revved up to BLAME TEACHERS FIRST, and almost no attention is given either the societal or TEACHING conditions they work under.

We claim to be “Waiting for Superman?”

Then REMOVE THE KRYPTONITE, and let teachers TEACH!

Unfortunately what we are doing is no less than inviting LEX LUGAR to come “reform” the classroom.

teacher&mom

April 3rd, 2012
11:27 am

@Chuckles: The idea of issue an iPad to every student has merit. However, too often we jump on a bandwagon and never consider the both sides of a policy.

South Korea, which is considered a leader in implementing classroom technology, is having second thoughts of using whole scale technology to replace traditional textbooks.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-south-korean-classrooms-digital-textbook-revolution-meets-some-resistance/2012/03/21/gIQAxiNGYS_story.html

Mary Elizabeth

April 3rd, 2012
11:30 am

@Beverly Fraud, 10:26 am

“What do you say Mary Elizabeth, to those who say the funds that have been allocated have been OBSCENELY wasted?
You don’t have to be a fan of ALEC to legitimately ask if the public schools need to be DRASTICALLY altered.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Good Morning, Beverly. As I have responded to your above question of me many times in the past, I believe that there is no excuse for the misuse of public funds in the public schools. This misuse of public funds must be addressed and corrected, in part, through the efforts of aware and committed citizens, such as yourself. However, that does not mean that public schools should be dismantled. They need to be improved in their use and accountability of public funds, as well as in their delivery of targeted instruction to individual student need. Public schools are not meant to enhance corporate profits. They function because of taxes from the general public. Imperfect though public schools may be, they are a better option, overall, for educating students because they will not use students, directly, for profit purposes as the private sector invariably will do.

I will go even further than your question of me. I do not believe that politicians – of either political party – should use public funds to enhance their own private wealth or to enhance the private market in any arena. Public funds are meant for the public sector delivery of not-for-profit services to the general public. That is why those who work for the government – including politicians and educators – are called “public servants.” They are placed in their positions to be working for the common good of all the citizens, through public taxes. That is why the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution says that our government is to “provide for the common defense” and “promote the general welfare” of this nation.

The private sector may do whatever it, reasonably, wishes to do within the capitalistic framework our nation, but not with public funds.

renprep mom

April 3rd, 2012
11:31 am

I think @negatory hit the nail on the head. It greatly depends on the subject and the motivation of the student. We have to ask if FORCING kids to go this route is in their best interest. Yes, it’s a viable option to go along with the regular face to face class interaction. But I still think that personal teacher to student interaction is necessary for most of our kids.

Khan Academy is great! It serves as the supplement to the teacher! Nothing wrong with that.

Dr. Pangloss

April 3rd, 2012
11:33 am

I’ve done classroom teaching and online teaching. My students were professional people with at least a master’s degree. Classroom is better. Maybe it’ll be different when they invent the holodeck, but for now, if you really need help, you need a human being to be there with you.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Georgians for Educational Excellence

April 3rd, 2012
11:33 am

How ’bout a father to every student?

Should ferality and other forms of ignorance be unexpected when children “rear” themselves?

Another Math Teacher

April 3rd, 2012
11:33 am

catlady: “I am familiar with the “online teaching” that is used with our disruptive kids at the alternative school. It is a complete joke.”

No, you are familiar with credit recovery. It is not the same thing as a normal online class. Credit recovery is a warehouse program to hold the disruptive/unmotivated students until they change their ways or drop out.

Beverly Fraud

April 3rd, 2012
11:49 am

“As I have responded to your above question of me many times in the past, I believe that there is no excuse for the misuse of public funds in the public schools. This misuse of public funds must be addressed and corrected, in part, through the efforts of aware and committed citizens, such as yourself.”

Mary Elizabeth, here’s what the “choice” and “for profit” people are going to respond with:

The public schools have shown that value maintaining their power above ALL else. The ONLY way they are going to change is with threat of competition.

Yes with ALEC and the like it does seem like opening Pandora’s box. But we wouldn’t NOT put addict (which is what the public schools basically are-addition to their status quo) in rehab, just because the rehab happened to make a profit would we?

Atlanta Mom

April 3rd, 2012
11:56 am

Motivated students will learn under any circumstances. Students at the other end of the spectrum will not learn under any circumstances. It’s the students in between the extremes that we cannot lose. On line classes seem like an easy way for children to drop through the cracks.

MannyT

April 3rd, 2012
11:58 am

Quality beats quantity in education.

When education is done well, it can take many forms. When done poorly, the mechanism doesn’t matter. Bad is still bad.

Politicians should encourage good education for all students, instead of trying to mandate mechanisms and rules that they do little to fund. There is little advantage in taking Geometry online if the class is available in every high school & middle school.

Online education has its place when we can provide quality learning options that may not be available in a regular setting. Let high school and middle school students get educational opportunities that may be restricted due to class/resource limits. One example—foreign languages. If there are a small number of high schoolers that are qualified and interested in taking Chinese, a school may not be able to afford to create a class. However, if there are enough students across a school district (or state) to fill the class, online learning may be a good way to provide the learning opportunity.

If there was a rare chance to get someone from NASA to teach a class about space science, it would be a great opportunity if a few students from multiple high schools could participate to spread the learning opportunity to top students in many locations.

If you want more benefit for students below grade level in online classes, you modify the class to provide more required work to catch up–i.e. the catch up Algebra might have 20% extra course time to evaluate and catch up on the fundamentals.