1. learning is a social process that requires contact with others, and
2. many people have a hard enough time staying on task in a classroom, getting done what needs to be done, and don't have the self-discipline to take classes over the internet.
However, I see times when distance learning can be good:
1. sick or injured students who cannot come to school,
2. make-up to avoid summer school,
3. suspended/expelled students, and
4. home-schooled students.
In most cases, the distance learning I've described would be a temporary situation.
But what if it weren't?
Last fall, more than 140 of the state’s 426 school districts used Wisconsin’s Web Academy to provide online learning to more than 800 students in grades six through 12, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.What if some of this distance learning were done at school?
The Madison School District offers about 100 high school level online courses, and its Madison Virtual Campus started in 2005. Most students use the courses to supplement the regular school day, said Kelly Pochop, Madison’s online learning facilitator.
Some states, such as Michigan, even mandate students take an online course before graduating high school.
“If districts aren’t currently offering online courses, they’re studying ways to provide (them),” said Brian Busler, Oregon’s superintendent. Online classes, whether at the university or elementary level “have just exploded over the last several years.”
Since the state began allowing parents to send their children to any public school district in 1998, about 60 families have left the Oregon School District to attend a virtual school, Peschel said. In addition, 30 home-schooled students also have left the district.
For example, this coming school year, it appears that our school will not have an AP Physics course for the first time in forever. Not enough students signed up for it. Why couldn't students take such a course via distance learning? Also, the only foreign languages my school offers are Spanish and French; what if students could take German, or Mandarin, or even Klingon via distance learning in a "distance learning lab" set up at school?
Think of the options. Schools would no longer be bound by the limitations of their own faculties. Nor would they have to compete against each other in magnet-type classes--"If you want to learn this, ours is the only school in the area that offers it." Students could go to their neighborhood schools and reap the benefits of programs taught at other schools. I see huge benefits for rural schools. And county offices of education--here in California, a relatively useless appendage of education bureaucracy--could actually become useful under a program such as this.
These are just a few thoughts that pop into my head only a couple minutes after having read the link above; I have no doubt that the idea would sound even better given more time to flesh it out. Yes, of course, issues would pop up that would need to be solved, but I think this is a case where we should find ways to make this work, not reasons why it can't. There's just too much good that could come from this.