Thursday, May 06, 2010

Virtual Schools, or Distance Learning

I've long been an advocate of "school by internet", but believe it's probably going to be the exception rather than the rule. Not everyone is capable of being self-directed in a way required by going to school at home.

But that doesn't mean that such schools shouldn't exist for those who need or prefer them, and Massachusetts is entering the fray:

The schools would have no desks or lockers, not even a cafeteria to trade gossip over a plate of chicken nuggets. Instead, students could take classes from the comfort of their homes or a neighborhood coffeehouse, as teachers convey lessons via the Internet.

This is a snapshot of virtual public schools in Massachusetts, which could open as soon as this fall, enabling hundreds of students to take all their classes online...

State education leaders say they expect the schools will appeal to a small fraction of students statewide, who would have to apply for entry. But it could be a boon for students who are bored or unchallenged by curriculums (sic) in traditional schools, and could benefit students who can’t attend regular school because of a medical condition, expulsion, or incarceration, among other reasons.


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

THANK YOUUUU for specifying that these are public schools. When you take this option for your children, you are NOT HOMESCHOOLING.

It is "public school at home."

BTW, Massachusetts is an awful, disgustingly horrible state for homeschoolers (as in, people who entirely educate their own children themselves). It might appeal to a far larger swath of the populace than you might imagine.

I know I'd have to at least consider it if Hell froze over, thus somehow necessitating a move to that state. :)

Ellen K said...

Here's the problem. If you offer the entire educational access via the Internet, it would be up to the student to access the material, learn it and then demonstrate mastery of it. There would be no teachers or administrators to blame. Without scapegoats, the responsibility goes right where it belongs, on the student. In that vein I am writing a proposal this week to product AP Art History as a podcast class for my district since we never have enough students enrolled at any single campus, but we do have enough district wide, to make such a class viable. But whether they access the podcasts and do the reading will be up to the student. I know that many college students take such classes and fail because they think they can ignore it. This should be interesting.

Darren said...

You say this as I'm yet again considering a masters degree online. :-)

allen (in Michigan) said...

Ellen, distance learning isn't an "either/or" situation.

There's nothing about distance learning that precludes classroom instruction and if it's education that's the primary consideration then the most effective, economical mix of the appropriate venues is what'll be sought out.

Also, distance learning doesn't let anyone off the hook.

If there are professionals involved then they can presumably execute their duties with varying degrees of efficiency. A lousy teacher's a lousy teacher whether they're conducting a distance learning class or face-to-face, a poorly-designed distance learning class is a poorly-designed class.

The real trick's separating the good from the bad and since the public education system is still dominant the importance of developing quality measurement standards for education is still seen as a pretty bizarre idea.

Anonymous said...

I took my MBA online and it takes discipline, trust me! That said, my 6th grader child is doing online school (California Virtual Academy) and is thriving. Granted, she goofs off from time to time, but because I can monitor her from work, she knows I am watching and acts accordingly. Some kids would really do well online.

John said...


Virtual Schools are good But, I preferred distance learning rather than virtual schools. Why because distance learning helps to get knowledge about your subjects from professional teachers who can describe very well about your subjects. virtual schools are also good but it's good for those who have some knowledge about their subject in which they want to get degree or certificate.

elearning guy said...

My vote goes to distance learning. Although there are some disadvantages distance learning has, the number of advantages outnumbered the disadvantages and that's what more important.